Rated – 3.5 stars (out of 5)
Audrey Gordon’s Tuscan Summer – Recipes & Recollections From The Heart Of Italy is not your regular cookbook. It is a cookbook of hilarious proportions. In fact, when you start reading it, you will find yourself checking the foreword and the author bio on the inside of the dust jacket to make sure that it is indeed a cookbook and not a prank. I did. Gordon Ramsay said "Puts the comedy back into the kitchen!" and I would have to wholeheartedly agree with him.
Audrey Gordon. Can’t say that I had heard about her before reading the book and the bio in the book was ridiculously funny so I did a little digging on a site called Google. I chuckled when I read that gorgeous Audrey Gordon who might’ve been inspired by Nigella Lawson in the way she dresses and poses in the cookbook is actually Australian actress Heidi Arena. She is quite brilliant in this spoof of a cookbook, with her large chunky beads and exaggerated shots of her smelling fresh herbs and shopping for fresh produce. The writing is effortless, the tongue in cheek satire quite infectious. Audrey’s ramblings about traveling in Italy, her dinner etiquette, her ten commandments, her snippets of wisdom and her month by month account of cooking seasonal produce keeps you thoroughly entertained and you don’t see your next big belly laugh coming.
Audrey’s narrative for her darling husband Phillip was the funniest thing in the cookbook. Phillip has a penchant for disaster and although there are several pictures of him in the cookbook, you never get to see his face. The cookbook cleverly mocks everything you have come to expect and love in real cookbooks that are not a parody. The book is very refreshing because it lets you unwind and take a look at this global obsession from a very light hearted perspective.
The recipes although dotted with hilarious notes are actually very real. That is the best part about this cookbook. The 50 odd recipes in the book are very authentic ranging from grilled and marinated rabbit to the classic Tuscan chicken and spinach ravioli. There is something here for everyone to try. I have cooked the fish soup and made the cherry pie. The Spaghetti Al Pesto was beautiful and I have done a full post about it.
I love my quirky and whimsy much more than the next person and there are days when I just can’t be serious enough. That is one of the reasons why I loved this book so much. Cooking can quickly escalate from a hobby to a chore, from a passion to obsession. This book reigns you in and tells you to have a laugh. After all, it is just food!
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Note – The review copy of the book was sent to me by the good folks over at Hardie Grant Books