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What are you reading?

This question can elicit a number of very different responses. The aghast look of “are you joking? I haven’t had time to read!” to the people who read for the love of reading and insist on regaling you with plot, style, biography of the writer and everything in-between. Some read for escapism, some to quench a thirst for knowledge, some for the love and joy of just reading. The reasons are tenfold and myriad. Whatever your preference, each year sees a wonderful selection of literary options to suit all tastes. How we read has changed dramatically over the years from traditional hardback or soft cover to electronic, audible, writers’ subscriptions like Substack, newsletters, pre-order there is an endless way to engage. So, whether you turn page corners down, use beautiful bookmarks, skim through or just aimlessly glance at images we would like to share a few of our members favourite books from 2023. Not surprisingly, Cookery and food related books weighed in heavy!

Reading for life

Spice Box;

 Easy everyday Indian food by Sunil Ghai. Sunil Ghai is a renowned award-winning chef living in Ireland and has been credited with revolutionizing Indian food in Ireland. A glorious book full of mouthwatering easy to follow recipes based on north Indian home cooking. Chosen by our member Peter Merrigan, it makes a fantastic addition to the home cooks’ repertoire. Peter also highlighted ‘The Gathered Table’: A Taste of Home. This book is a collection of 55 recipes from across Ireland's food world. A collaboration of bakers, butchers, farmers, food champions, producers, shopkeepers and chefs sharing their most cherished recipes to raise money for the Peter Mc Verry trust. A very worthy charity helping homeless people in Ireland.

Dark Matter:

 the new science of the microbiome by Dr James Kinross. A fascinating read from one of the worlds leading microbiome scientists and surgeon, described as “the definitive book on the science of the microbiome and how unlocking its potential can protect our health, our immunity and our planet”. Not for the faint hearted this book requires you to pay attention but will leave you with a sense of awe in our unseen world. This was one of my own favourite books, I have found it to be an invaluable point of reference and continuously go back to it. Following on from my fascination with microbes, fermentation and all things food the following are a few of my other favourites.

Of Cabbages and Kimchi by James Read.

 James is on a mission, a microbial mission! The most glorious book I have read in a long while, full of microbial facts, cultural and historic backgrounds, flavour first this is a culinary revolution. The science of fermenting explained in easily absorbed language alongside recipes and methods all illustrated by Marija Tiurina’s gastro-surrealist watercolours. A stunning magical book.

Other fermentation books that are a must if this is your thing are ; Our fermented Lives, by Julia Skinner, an exceptional read. Koji for life by Nakaji, (English and Japanese) a must have to understand what Koji is and its potential uses in today’s professional kitchens. And, the magnificent Koji Alchemy, by Rich Shih and Jeremy Umansky. Not from 2023 but, a lesson in all things Koji. Lastly, a book that captured my heart in 2023 was Martin Ruffley and Anna King Rekindling the fire: Food and the Journey of Life. A book full of heart, love, loss and most of all hope with beautiful images and recipes you will really want to make.

Our chair Lorraine Oman reads to switch off! She is loving the Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley.

 Lucinda describes her series as “ a story of love, family, joy, loss, fear and pain. And mostly it is the story of hope”. Based on the mythological sisters of Pleiades these are stories of unique strong women. They are a “celebration of the achievements of women, especially in the past where so often their contribution to making our world the place it is today has been overshadowed by the more frequently documented achievements of men,” Lorraine highly recommends this series for all readers.

Lastly our own member Dr Mark Farrell Published the evocative Cocoa Shells and Broken Biscuits; Dublin city Liberties Food

This gorgeous book examines the evolution of Irish food culture in the Liberties of Dublin, from the origins of the first settlement at Wood Quay, up to the middle of the last century. Mark examines what went “into the pot” and brings us on a culinary journey that captures the life and times of those responsible filling our pots. We cannot recommend this book highly enough.

We hope you enjoyed our glance at some of our members favourite reads of 2023 and we look forward to what literary joys are ahead for 2024.

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

Groucho Marx

Therea Keane December 2023

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