Book Review: Adventures of a Terribly Greedy Girl by Kay Plunkett-Hogge

Adventures of a terribly greedy girl

This book was bought for me by a friend.  She had read a pre release review and immediately thought of me.  Now I’m not sure if I should be offended or not.  Greedy, moi? Surely not.  I’ve decided it was obviously the ‘memoir of food, family, film and fashion’  subtitle that made her think of me rather than my penchant for anything edible.  Whichever it was I’m so glad she did because this is a marvellous book.  So marvellous in fact that I read it in a day, and I haven’t done that with any book for some time.

For those of you who don’t know and I didn’t, Kay Plunkett-Hogge is a food and drink writer of some acclaim, having written other books of her own, co-written with other foodie writers and regularly writes about cocktails for the Daily Telegraph and Sainsburys’ Magazine.

“With a dry martini in hand Kay Plunkett-Hogge looks back at the happy accidents, regrettable errors and unexpected opportunities  that led to a career as a food and drink writer, via stints in the worlds of fashion and film.  She shares 25 delicious recipes she discovered along the way, from her grandmother’s apple crumble to sashimi with Thai salsa verde’

Despite coming from fairly humble beginnings, Kay’s fathers job took him to Thailand.  He and his South London born wife went on to settle and bring up their two daughters in Thailand, under the shadow of the Vietnam war. Growing up in 70s Bangkok, Kay spent her childhood between two kitchens: inside for Western food, outside for Thai.  She developed a love of food; the eating, the preparation and the sharing.  All of which has gone on to shape her life and much of what she has done since.  She worked for some time as a model booker and went on to set up a bespoke location catering service for the fashion business.  She has lived in New York, where she lived in Brooklyn and discovered the best place to find the freshest sea food was China town.  She lived in LA and discovered the importance of going  out on a limb and trying combinations that might seem odd at first but which her gut told her would work.  She also learnt about cooking by trusting your memory and imagination, allowing your palate to guide you.

“Peacock Kale, I’ll sauté that with garlic and pine nuts.  Then there are those big scaly avocados and smaller smooth ones being sold for 50 cents to a buck each, ready to be mashed into guacamole or churned into ice cream with peptise and chilli.  Green tomatoes or tomatillos – I’ll make salsa with those or slice them and dip them in cornmeal, and fry them crisp to serve with a fat pungent aioli.  Heirloom tomatoes grown by an elderly Italian couple with seeds brought back from their homeland in the 1940’s – huge and gnarled and almost black but tasting  as only tomatoes grown with love and ripened by the sun can taste.  Theres no other place my imagination can take me with those than to make a rich deep tomato sauce to pop in the freezer for quick pastas”

I defy anyone to read this and not want to either cook, or eat or preferably both.  The night I finished reading this I made Poulet Noir dans son Jus.  Chicken cooked in a casserole in the oven with carrot, onion leek and a bulb of garlic and a few herbs turns out to meltingly tender and even more delicous when served with a silky buttery white wine jus.  I have also marked avocado ice cream and a Thai burger as recipes I feel I have to try.

I also defy anyone to read this and not want to travel.  I am not someone that needs any persuasion at all to travel.  I will travel at any opportunity and have had the good fortune to visit lots of places all over the world.   However I have not (yet) visited Thailand.  Not because I don’t want to , I really do and  having read this book really, really do.  I always felt I wanted to spend more than a standard 2 week holiday there and although still hold to that I’m not sure having read this book I can now wait much longer….

There is lots of joy in this book, a joy in food, a joy in family and friends and a joy in life.  Kay is someone who seems to grasp life, she doesn’t miss an opportunity to discover new food or places and never seems afraid to say yes.

“Adventures of a Terribly Greedy Girl is about the benefits of letting your curiosity trump your good sense”

I couldn’t agree more.

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