Book reviews: One for the road – October 2013

One for the road – October 2013 One for the road – October 2013
One for the road – October 2013 One for the road – October 2013
One for the road – October 2013 One for the road – October 2013
One for the road – October 2013 One for the road – October 2013
One for the road – October 2013 One for the road – October 2013
One for the road – October 2013 One for the road – October 2013

Peta Stavelli looks over the latest books from our publishers and offers some suggestions for great spring reads.

Go Fish, Al Brown, Random House NZ, $50

The re-release of the award-winning book from one of New Zealand's best-loved chefs will no doubt be greeted with the same enthusiastic response this time around. Go Fish was first released to wide acclaim in 2009. The following year it won the People's Choice category in the New Zealand Post Book Awards. It has won Best Single Subject at the highly-regarded International Association of Culinary Professionals Awards in the USA and a 2011 Book Quill at the New Zealand Guild of Food Writer's Culinary Quill Awards. I am not at all surprised. It's simple, elegant, real and a celebration of all that's good about being a Kiwi. And while Mr Brown does not use the book as a platform to preach the conservation message or to bang on about the dire state of some of our fisheries, nor does he shy away from it. Instead he urges restoration and restraint by encouraging recreational fishers to respect quotas, try unusual species and — above all — to use all parts of their catch. Lovely work, Al.

Everest — The First Ascent, Harriet Tuckey, Random House NZ, $36

Being a bit of an armchair adventurer, I have read numerous books by mariners like Joshua Slocum, Johnny Wray, James Wharram and the venerable round the world sailor, Bernard Moitessier. I have also read every book written by the late Sir Edmund Hillary and many written by his son Peter. Yet I have never heard of Griffith Pugh — the man who made the successful conquest of Everest possible. In time for the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest in May 1953, we finally learn about the life and work of Pugh, who faced opposition, suspicion, ridicule, and the ultimate insult of anonymity after revolutionising almost every aspect of British high-altitude mountaineering and paving the way for stunning success. Pugh's work transformed the approach to oxygen, clothing, boots, tents, air beds, fitness, hygiene, health-care, diet, and acclimatisation. Written by Pugh's daughter, Harriet Tuckey, Everest — The First Ascent also charts the personal story of her own, and her mother's, relationship with this fiercely independent, troubled, abrasive, and eccentric man, as she seeks to uncover the achievements of his controversial career. Highly recommended.

The 2-Day Diet, Dr Michelle Harvie and Professor Tony Howell, Random House NZ, $30

Diets don't work! Or do they? It seems that this one does. In fact, the authors say it is a clinically-proven fact. Rather than banking the profits from their claims, the pair donate all proceeds from their book to the registered charity Genesis Cancer Prevention, the centre where they both work researching the prevention of breast cancer. Each has published numerous papers on the subject and their conclusions have led to the publication of the book. It contains sufficient real life stories, science, detailed plans, and also recipes to help the reader enjoy the benefits of their research into the biological benefits of fasting on health. Fasting, you say! Sounds too hard… Well, it's early days for me, but I have seen two friends melt away with ease using this method combined with the Paleo diet, which reduces dairy and grain intake while favouring good quality protein with vegetables, fruit, and nuts. Watch this space.

First Crossings, Kevin Biggar and Jamie Fitzgerald, Random House NZ, $45

First Crossings is based on the high-rating TV show of the same name and features five episodes from each of the first and second seasons. The book includes more detail and background to each of the stories — both the historical backgrounds and also Kevin and Jamie's reactions to the stories and to their attempts at recreating them.

I was surprised to read about their dangerous and death-defying encounters, which lends a great deal more gravitas to the television show and beats run-of-the-mill reality television offerings hands down.

The Guts, Roddy Doyle, Random House NZ, $38

Jimmy Rabbitte started The Commitments back in the eighties. He's now 47 with a loving wife, four kids, and bowel cancer. As he faces the prospect of an early death, two members of the band for which he is still best known come back into his life — gorgeous Imelda Quirk, who seems to be up for it, and Outspan, whose own cancer is terminal. Along the way, he also becomes reunited with his brother, learns to play the trumpet, and is one of the oldest people attending Ireland's hottest rock festival. Roddy Doyle is one of Ireland's funniest and most prolific writers. His numerous books and plays have achieved wide acclaim. In The Guts he uses a scriptwriter's approach to the novel, which takes some time to come to grips with, but is ultimately rewarding.

Hungry and Frozen, Laura Vincent, Penguin Books NZ, $40

This is a cookbook of staggering refreshment from a young New Zealand cook whose blog of the same name has already made her somewhat of a household name with the young and hip — which obviously means I had not previously heard of this fabulous young foodie, when the contents of her cookbook first blazed upon my desk. Page after page of delectable, original recipes fair leap out at you. For example — olive cake, condensed milk bread, whisky steak, sake fish pie, haloumi cheesecake, and tomato curd tarlets. The author is truly original — not just trying to be a clever cookie — and her recipes are so creative you'll kick yourself for not coming up with them first. Highly recommended.

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