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Wild Figs & Fennel

A New Cookbook



 

This book was the hardest thing I have ever created apart from the baby I gave birth to in the same year. It was hard because there are always a million things to say and a limited way (and page count) of saying them. It’s a book that’s a continuation of Bitter Honey, in a way it’s all the outtakes that never made it in, the extended version, with all the detailed, geeky, behind-the-scenes bits which I love. Ostensibly it’s a book about a year in my kitchen, but in reality it’s my journal of 6 years in Sardinia, the extraordinary place that has become my home.

 

It’s a book with some of the recipes closest to my heart, some of the most traditional, but also a mix of old and new: new recipes using traditional ingredients, new combinations based on old favourites. The recipes are all seasonal, mostly vegetarian, mostly involving less than a handful of ingredients and not too much faff. Nothing overly technical because I wrote it and cooked it (and also shot some of it) in real time in a real tiny kitchen with a bastard oven which burns everything. It’s also a book about foraging and the unbridled joy of finding food for free, something that I have been fanatical about since the first time my dad took a mini me to pick mushrooms one misty Devon morning with the scent of sheep on the air. The more we forage, the less we buy, and that can only be a good thing in a world where food costs continue to balloon.

 

It’s also a book about the weather (does it get any more British), it’s a book about family; about remembering a family, inheriting one, and then becoming one, too. It’s a book about vegetables and fruits (and figs! And fennel!) and when and how they grow and what to do them. It’s a book about Baratili San Pietro the tiny town where we live and the unique Vernaccia di Oristano wine Lorenzo’s family have made for generations and the traditions of the people and the place I am lucky enough to spend my time with and in, and why these matter and need to be written down and read about. It’s a true collage book, which is what I wanted, a sort of scrapbook of stories and recipes, and the people, produce and places that are behind those recipes, and the Italian (or specifically Sardinian) passion that keeps them alive. It’s about the context behind cooking that I am forever fixated with, about life not just about food, because life always leaks in. As Ruth Reichl wrote, for people who love and live to eat and to cook, food is simply the lens through which we view the world.

 

It’s a book born out of 3 years of Covid and the strange, semi post-apocalyptic years after; a book that, as a result of those strange times, clings to, celebrates and cherishes the small and the slow. About how, despite any natural tendencies towards impatience and anxiety (guilty as charged), Sardinia teaches you to slow down, to look around, to relish the small moments, the everyday bliss of good food in good company, of coffee and cake. About how it is easy to be generous when you have lots, but to be generous when you have little means so much more. About the necessity, ever more relevant in today’s uncertain world, of being satisfied with little, the mantra of my parents-in-law and many other Sards I know, ‘ci accontentiamo di poco’. But it’s not ‘poco’, it’s so much more than a little, because these are really the biggest things of all; food, family, love, and the land in which we live.


So, that's sort of what it's about. Oh and also there's a nice bit in the beginning about love and ham. And then there are, of course, a year's worth of doable and - I hope - delicious recipes. I really hope you will enjoy it.


The link to pre-order is here. https://geni.us/wildfigsandfennel




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