‘A life of kai’ – a cute way to sum up the genesis of this lushly photographed book, but the content goes deep beyond a catchy phrase. It’s centred around the Māori belief of mauri, that everything has a life force which doesn’t end when a vegetable is dug up, fruit is picked from the tree or a fish hooked from the water. In removing it from where it belongs it’s your duty to honour that by treating it well and not wasting it. Well, the produce in this book has been treated very well with richly detailed images and evocative styling beautifully honouring the ingredients, and recipes of Christall’s whānau and the often simple food that has been a force in her life. As she says, “In our family, it’s not so much about how much food you have in your storehouse, but what you do with it.” And what Christall does is sometimes traditional such as rēwena bread, fry bread, boil up and tītī (mutton bird), sometimes intriguing such as pāua and venison meatballs with rosemary syrup and sometime both such as oven-cooked hāngī kono – meat, root vegetables and stuffing steamed in the oven inside cabbage leaf parcels, giving all the elements of hāngī without the digging, burning wood, hot stones and steam. This is not the place to look for challenging, ground- breaking recipes nor even new twists on old classics, but somehow the lovely presentation leaves the impression that the whole is more than the collection of old-fashioned family-favourite recipes. Never has steamed pudding looked so luscious. TRACY WHITMEY