By Cuisine2 Minutes
October 18, 2021By Cuisine


For several weeks now I have been sitting quietly with this book, absorbing its air of calm reflection. It’s very much the grande dame of Australian food in a contemplative mood; and with more than 60 years of cooking, writing, travelling and eating in hundreds of restaurants and food-loving homes, Stephanie Alexander presents a treasure trove of favourite ingredients, flavours, recipes and food to dip into. Her influences are mainly from France and Italy, and when it comes to Asian food she confesses to being “a tourist dipping in my fork or spoon or chopstick, intrigued but not truly knowing.” These are dishes that she likes to cook at home, so the recipes are tried and true rather than modish, and the experience is not just about getting a meal ready, but taking enjoyment in the process. In longer essays Alexander delves into her thoughts on topics such as travel, food writers and her work with children in schools. I urge you not to skip all the recipe notes, essays and introductions, as herein lie the nuggets of experience, wisdom and appreciation – the seasonings that make the dish, if you will – introducing us to a host of cooks and writers, and the genesis of recipes that have evolved from her first rendering to the version she gives today. For me, the why, with whom, when and where are every bit as important as the how of the recipes. A book not to be astonished at but delighted by. TRACY WHITMEY