My new book In Good Company is now out in the world! And I am feeling equal parts nerves and excitement about its launch. Here is the introduction I wrote for the opening pages, I hope it sets the scene for what this book is all about. And here too is a little video which should do the same! From March 30 it should be available to purchase at a good book shop near you or online!
This book is my love letter to shared tables of good food. It came together over a year of travelling around the country visiting family and friends and taking over their kitchens to cook with, and for, them. We dragged tables into gardens and paddocks and set them up, we shared picnics on windswept headlands, we had cosy kitchen suppers and we barbecued lamb on the back of a boat (while I tried not to fall in with my camera going in for the ‘hero shot’).
Ask anyone to tell you about the most memorable, meaningful meals of their life and I promise they won’t give you a chronological playback of what they ate; they’ll tell you how that meal made them feel. They’ll remember the candlelight and the smell of the roses in the centre of table. They’ll talk about the moment everyone first tasted that hot lemon pudding and how it was light and fresh, but warm and comforting at the same time. They’ll remember the spontaneous game of celebrity head and how they hadn’t laughed like that in ages. Or how, on that stinking hot February evening, that big bowl of pasta served outside under fairy lights with a pitcher of tangy, delicious cocktails was like a balm.
There is so much we can’t control, but how we feed the people we love and show them that love through a table set with pretty flowers, candles, your best napkins and their favourite food? This is in our control and it’s powerful stuff.
I write this, and the following pages, in celebration of conviviality. I hope they give you some ideas for gatherings to have at your own place soon, whether a lovely morning tea or drinks and a ‘chatter platter’ next Friday night or a quiet supper in the back garden with the neighbours.
Ultimately, all of this is just about being together. It’s about belonging, being looked after, looking after others in return and feeling like you are part of something, even for just a night.
And I promise that if the food is tasty, the table has been set with a little care, the drinks are flowing and the music is playing, it will be the best of times. And don’t we all need more of those?