Let the right one in

I sometimes go through “phases” as relates to my chosen reading material.  Sometimes I’m all about non-fiction, with popular science titles or historical works being the flavour of the month but just at the moment I’m in what I’d call a “vampire phase”.  I’ve recently been devouring (sorry) Charlaine Harris’ South Vampire series, after sampling a dose of Sunshine and currently I am supping of the irresistibly creepy Let the right one in* by Swede John Ajvide Lindqvist.

My curiosity was piqued by reviews of the film.  Coming out as it did around the time of the phenomenally successful Twilight, comparisons were unavoidable.  David Farrier, of TV3 reviewed the film and said that it was “actually worth watching” since unlike Twilight, “the book isn’t rubbish”.  Encouraged by this I decided to give it a go.

One of the common themes within vampire fiction is that of loneliness and isolation.  Let the right one in is no different but the execution is very deftly done.  There’s something in the portrayal of the damaged, socially distant characters, combined with descriptions of icy Swedish settings that makes you feel a little cold even in a New Zealand summer.  So there’s something undeniably sweet about two people making a connection amongst all this loneliness.  It’s just a little unfortunate that one of them is a petite vampire named Eli and the other is a bullied, outcast boy named Oskar.

I’m only half-way through the book, so I don’t know yet how it ends.  Unlike many more formulaic treatments of vampire/ human relationships I have no idea where it might go (but I suspect somewhere dark, awful, and beautiful).  It’s not a book for the squeamish, with some fairly gruesome and disturbing content but it has an elegiac tone you don’t often get from your average Stephen King (not that I consider Mr King average).  So if you’re looking for something a little different from your run-of-the-mill fang-tastic potboiler, Let the right one in might be just the thing.

*The title comes from a Morrissey song and the need that vampires have to be “invited” before they can enter the domicile of their “victim”.  Makes you think twice about the Avon lady, don’t it?

Wonderfully weird or just plain wack?

Is it just my imagination or does New Zealand have an unnatural love for outré foods?

For example this year’s Wildfoods Festival in Hokitika is shaping up to be a doozy with delicacies such as the poetically named “pig parts” prepared I might add in a medley of styles, worm dukkah, wasp larvae ice-cream, testi stew and the pièce de résistance Viagra cookies. Yum yum I hear you all shout.  Now the haggis and mealie puddings on offer do sound delish but I’d personally pass (or pass out) on the huhu grubs. I’d also rather have a deep fried Mars bar than a deep fried locust any day of the week.

But for all you wild food and offal eaters out there, you don’t need to buy a $30 ticket  and travel to the West Coast to eat horrendous food when with a bit of good Kiwi ingenuity and a handy-dandy cookbook from your local library you can rustle up your own exotic grub (grub! funny pun right?…maybe not then…)

Go wild! : Monteith’s wild foods cookbook has all manner of disgustingness within its covers. If you fancy chowing down on marinated possum or fern fronds, then this most certainly is the book for you. 

Meanwhile intrepid restauranteurs Steve Logan and Al Brown travel to the far corners of New Zealand to bring mouthwatering bunny recipes and tasty eel nibbles to an eager audience in Hunger for the wild.

If you want, and I can’t really think why you would when after all we have Pak n Save, “to reconnect with the land, rediscover survival techniques and hunting methods” then UK authors Guy Grieve and Thomasina Miers can tell you how in The wild gourmets: adventures in food and freedom. 

New Zealand pig hunter magazine can also give some useful hints for bagging your own ferral oinker and notably features a different hunter proudly draped in dead pig on its cover every month. 

Finally vegetarians shouldn’t despair as Dennis Cotter brings some edible plant recipes from the wilds of Eire in the tweely named Wild garlic, gooseberries and me.

Just one thing while you are whipping up your Fear Factor feast, don’t leave any traces of your culinary achievements within the pages of a Christchurch City Libraries cookbook, squished huhu grubs or whitebait cupcake crumbs will bring down the awesome wrath of a librarian. Shudder…