My mind is occupied with food today. Every Sunday in the church of Norway has it's own focus, and today, in the middle of Lent, the reading is from the story where Jesus gives food to more than 5000 people, blessing and sharing a few small breads and fishes given by a small boy. My Lent table will get a blue colour this week, the fifth week of Lent.
Being a book lover and a food lover, I have of course a collection of books about food. Traditional recipe books can be okay, but my favorites are those who focus more on the culture of food, the area where the food comes from, the artist behind the recipes. I sometimes get lost in the growing world of food blogs, where my favorite is the Swedish/Italian Lucullian delights, and, still a fresh apprentice, I have alot of fun exploring out how to make my own food blog, The Blue Café better. The camera is now never far from our kitchen or our diningroom table, and when my family hear me call out that dinner is ready, they look at each other agreeing that they still have five minutes before then need to be settled: "Mum wil shoot her photos first".
But this post is supposed to be about books, and I'll take you on a walk through a very special bookshelf of mine where I keep my cookbooks. And during the walk we'll stop to open up a few of them.
Our first stop will be in Great Britain where the Norwegian-British author Roald Dahl lived. His children's books have been and are favorites in the Lindland household. Together with his wife Felicity, Roald lived in Gipsy House, a home open for family and friends, a home where the kitchen played a man part of their life. Memories With Food and Gipsy House is a beautiful book about Roald Dahl, his family, his childhood and the pleasure he finds in being together with his wife, their children, grandchildren and friends. A favorite pleasure for this big family is to sit around the table, eating and drinking. The book is written by Roald and Felicity, their family and their closest friends, it contans beautiful, colourful photos and also funny, charming illustrations by Quentin Blake (who has also illustrated Dahl's many children's books). I love to find ideas for my Blue Café in this book, but most of all I love to sit down, reading about the life at Gipsy House, finding immense delight in the words, in the many photos and illustrations.
Our next stop will be in France, in Giverny, where we meet the painter Claue Monet and his family. Monet invites us to take a seat around his table, serving us some freshly baked spice bread, letting us taste his favorite white wine before taking us on a walk in his garden. The garden walk takes a long time since Claude has so many flowers and hidden spots he wants to show us, and when we finally return to the house, greeted by the fantastic smell from the dinner ready in the kitchen, waiting to be served on the famous, yellow china, we suddenly feel how hungry we are, and we dive into a fantastic meal, framed by laughter and stories.
I am realizing that this visit to my foodbook shelf will take more than one Sunday, but before we end our book travel, in Venice as usual, we sit down with a cup of coffee and The French Kitchen. I keep on reading Joanne Harris's books through this Lent, and have now almost finished Coastliners. Food plays an important part in many of her books, so reading her cookbook dedicated to the French Kitchen, with her many stories as a background, is giving me alot of joy. An extra bonus in The French Kitchen are the many wonderful photos. A perfect coffee table book, where I can dream myself deep into stories told by the images.
Being in Venice is for me walking, walking, walking, preferably without a map, preferably "getting lost", since that's the very best way to find hidden treasures and quiet calles without the thousands of tourists which visit La Serenissima daily.
During one such walk my husband and I came over a small, totally crowded bookshop. The shop was just one small room with books everywhere, from floor to roof, leaving only a tiny little space for the owner and his table, a table crooked with books. A rainshower hit Venice just as we found this shop. The owner bacame busy covering the table with books right outside his door, Terje and I slipped in through the door in search of smell, textures and dreams found in the thousands of books. There, hidden between novels and travelbooks, I found Sally Spector's Venice and Food. Sally, who now lives in Venice has written the book and made the great aquarelles and drawings you can find on every site. I could have written alot about this book, but now I need the rest of my Sunday to actually read my books, not just write about them. And also to take Ingrid (we are home alone this week-end) to an Italian restaurant for dinner later.
See you for more booktalk next Sunday - and in the comment section here!