I’m guessing that you wouldn’t expect to find a cookery book in the Trash or treasure list, but this one is something special. Allyson Gofton’s Country Calendar Cookbook celebrating Country Calendar’s 45th anniversary. Tui Flower sure did “knock the chef out” of her and the food writer in. I went to the book launch in Oxford, North Canterbury. What made the afternoon and the cookbook such a delight— is this book’s subtitle “Our people, their food”.
Divided into seasons, each set of recipes is grouped by the families that cook them. The families, their land and their stories are each introduced, and then each recipe is enhanced with more family stories and Allyson’s tips. Instead of primped and posed food shots, there are pictures of people, plants, land and animals, as well as beautifully photographed simply presented food, mostly cooked by the families themselves.
This book is as far removed from the normal fare of cookery book as a single-serve prepackaged chicken breast in the supermarket is from a home kill pig, spit roasted and shared with friends in the shade afforded by the canopy of an apple orchard. It is a treasure. A sample of our people — fishermen, farmers, market gardeners. their lives, and their food. A slice of New Zealand, all to savour.