When Food Is Love
When I remember everything good that has happened in my life, it invariably comes back to food. The cooking, the eating, the gatherings around the kitchen table — I grew up with a family that expressed their love through food.
Both my parents cooked. My mother collected recipes in a file, often just the ingredients in her indecipherable scrawl, never quantities, only she knew the missing magic. I would perch on a kitchen stool as she baked, taking the pastry scraps and rolling them out for jam tarts, making peppermint creams for the school sale.
Later, at university, I would come home during vacations, often to an empty house with my parents away at our house in France. I would proceed to invite all my friends over, cooking elaborate meals, stratas, and quiches for brunches, delicious desserts. I would buy cooking magazines and experiment, moving swiftly on when soufflés collapsed and onions burnt, bold and fearless, never afraid to try something new.
There were, inevitably, disasters. I hoped to impress a new boyfriend by cooking a Thai green curry for his closest friends. The recipe called for four large green peppers. My local grocery store only carried tiny green peppers, so I bought 16 of them, figuring that might make up the difference, not realizing each tiny one packed more heat than an Exocet missile. I almost set everyone’s mouths on fire. I still remember their pained faces, the only happy outcome that the scene made its way into my novel, Jemima J.
I have always loved to cook, to entertain, to gather people in my home and feed them, express my love for them in just the way my parents did. As a novelist, I am also an introvert, and even though I am very good at pretending to be social, the place I am always happiest, is at home. And the happiest of all is being at home, surrounded by my family and friends.
I quickly realized that for me, having people over is less about the food, and more about comfort, warmth, nurture. It is about creating the kind of welcoming environment that instantly makes people feel relaxed and cared for, that truly brings meaning to the concept of food being love.
My perfect evening always involves gathering the people I love in my kitchen, filling square glass vases with peonies and lavender from the garden, lining the table with creamy pillar candles of different heights, and cooking for everyone there.
I don’t have a dining room. I used to, but we never used it, preferring instead to sit around the kitchen table. Friends help chop the salad as I brown the onions, bottles of wine are poured by whoever’s around, and spiced nuts scooped out of bowls as people perch on the stools around the island.
The food I cook has its roots in comfort, and ease, with, naturally, an English spin thanks to my childhood growing up in London. Pumpkin gingerbread trifle, cottage pie, country bean & pesto soup. And my favorite teatime treat: scones — the English kind, with clotted cream and jam.
Of course my passion was going to make its way into my novels: over the years I have spiced up some of the pages with my recipes. And now, finally, I have fulfilled a dream and written a cookbook: Good Taste; Good Food. A Good Life.
And because I wanted to have my fingerprints on every page — from the recipes I have created, collected and adapted, to the design, to the food styling, to the sketches — I decided not to go down a traditional publishing route, but to fund this project through Kickstarter.
Kickstarter has allowed me to create this book myself, to personally put together an enormously talented team that could bring it to life. I have overseen every inch, which has not only been liberating, but creatively energizing. It has resulted in a book that is not only far more beautiful than I ever imagined when I set out, but truly feels like a piece of my heart.
If you would like to get a glimpse into my life, support me on this journey, and get your hands on the recipes that will turn your house into a home, here is the link to my Kickstarter page:
Jane Green is the author of SUMMER SECRETS, available now.