Vala Publishing Co-operative Ltd, 2012
Hbk: 224 pp
Reviewed by Hermina Stafford
At first glance when I was asked to review Florencia Clifford’s book with what I thought was a curious title, I was somewhat bemused at being told it was a cookery book. However it is so much more than that. The book is unusual because it is a personal journey of self-discovery combined with the author’s love of cooking.
Florencia was brought up in Cordoba, Argentina and she paints a vivid picture of her early food influences from her Scottish paternal ancestry and the Argentinean women of her family. She explains to her readers that she was always destined to be a cook because her soul had been nurtured through the food in the kitchens of her childhood.
Finding Buddhism changes her life and eventually Florencia finds a job as a Zen cook in a Buddhist centre in Wales. This is where she begins to learn more about who she really is, not just through being part of the community but also through creating and serving meals.
She is clearly a sensitive and deeply intuitive person on a spiritual journey and becomes increasingly aware of her deep connection to the natural world and to the changing seasons. As the book unfolds we find her discovering more about her own creativity and learning more about the art of living in the present moment.
The reader cannot help but be affected by this author’s ability to see cooking as a joy and by the way her spirit shines through her words as she describes her recipes. She speaks of her cooking as a kind of alchemy – the transformation of basic ingredients into food. She writes: “The kitchen brings me back to something ancient that inhabits me, a non-linguistic space. It is something innate, inherited…..a deep understanding of food that comes from within.”
This book is beautifully illustrated by Michaela Meadows and is full of delightful-sounding recipes. Florencia’s descriptions of the meals she prepares and cooks evokes for the reader a visual image of the colours and deliciousness of the food—so much so that I found myself wanting to sit down and be a guest at her table.