FIRE – A World Of Flavour
A book review by Franz Scheurer
If first impressions matter then this book has it all, textured with an embossed velvet cover, adorned with the colours of fire and a hard slipcover sleeve to protect it. It’s also quite a tome, big, heavy and impressive.
Chris Manfield has always produced outstanding food with strong aromas and flavours. For her an insipid dish is an insult and she manages to put the same energy into her food that she puts into life. Manfield really manages to explore the world, find flavours and combinations and make them her own. She’s a leader and not a follower and that makes her food special. In her latest book, FIRE, she travels the world and drags the reader, kicking and screaming with her, revealing combinations that work, aromas that allure and flavours that satisfy. No mean feat!
FIRE is divided into Tokyo, China, Vietnam, The Temples of Angkor, Luang Prabang, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Bali, Northern & Central India, Sri Lanka and Southern India, Mexico, Central Spain & the Basque Country, Catalonia, Andalucía, Morocco, The Middle East, Istanbul, France and finally Italy. It’s a wild ride and if you let your senses go and be receptive you’ll find Valhalla in many different forms. To quote Manfield: “The sharing of food knows no political boundaries, it is a reminder of remarkable places visited, with tastes that transport me immediately to any given place. It’s as if I can taste the character and essence of a place through its food.”
Although this book deals with the various cultures, even tells you where to sleep, eat and buy ingredients, describing people and localities, it is foremost a recipe book. There are some outstanding dishes that really appeal to me; here’s one from each section to give you a taste: ‘Steamed Sea Urchin Custards’, ‘Spice Roasted Squab with Turnip Cake’, ‘Lobster Lollipops’, ‘Black Pepper Chicken Tea’, ‘Caramel Pork Salad’, ‘Deep-fried Quail Eggs with Caramelised Coconut Salad’, ‘Baked Lemongrass Fish with Coriander Noodles’, ‘Lobster Taro Pastries’, ‘Spiced Bonito and Mango Salad’, ‘Stir-fried Curry Mud-Crab’, ‘Watermelon Sherbet’, ‘Churros with Caramelised Vanilla Creams’, ‘Chilli Squid with Chorizo and White Beans’, ‘Escalivada with Smoked Ocean Trout’, ‘Honey Fig and Goat’s Cheese Salad’, ‘Berber Roasted Poussin with Cous Cous Stuffing’, ‘Za’atar Cheese Balls’, ‘Fried Anchovy Pastries and Anchovy Custard’, ‘Simon’s Black Truffle Sandwiches’, and finally ‘Slow Braised Lamb Neck with White Truffle Noodles and Porcini’.
Despite its pretty appearance, this is a book to use. Let it live in the kitchen, don’t mind the fat splatters and greasy fingermarks, I’m sure that this is where it belongs.
Published by the Penguin Group Australia
RRP: $ 99.95