Sophie Dahl, one of the most glorious women on the planet, shares delicious secrets from her slinky kitchen, funny stories and favourite recipes in a beautifully illustrated hardback:
Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights: The Art Of Eating A Little Of What You Fancy
As somebody with a pretty rocky relationship with food, (and who is by no means a cook) I really appreciate Miss Dahl's honesty (and fantastic suggestions). Her book, full of delectable recipes for each season, photographed to magical perfection and accompanied by her positively Mitford-esque writing voice and a luscious abundant take on food. Sophie also writes about her battle with weight and her body. Flirting with every food fad from Atkins to raw food over the years, she has had both misadventures and victories in her quest to have a sound healthy relationship with food. She writes about the how press never understood that her weight ballooned during her modeling years not because she was a compulsive over-eater or a "fatty," but because she felt the pressure of a hardened industry where she did not fit in. She ate for comfort, she ate for sadness, she ate because she felt the expectations of everyone telling her 'you are an inspiration for everyone normal and large', she ate because it seemed like she had to be big, otherwise what the hell was she doing in this glamourous world? Then she discusses how later, after she lost the weight, she had to deal with people all over the world commenting on her shape. People were telling her that she had sold out, that she had lost her confidence, that she was much better and more authentic when she was full- figured. Sophie's frank analysis of her body throughout her life shows considerable and commendable hindsight. She writes with such poignancy and pathos, I felt very sympathetic. I could also relate.
"I have been as round as a Rubens and as skinny as a twig," she writes in the introduction. Ultimately, her book is less about food and more about eating, if that makes any sense. The happy medium where she finds herself now, slim and fit, leaves her in a healthy position- which is where this book is coming from.
As Sophie writes, "we have to change our understanding of what is beautiful and what is sexy." She says that she has seen and been that woman who is "reed-thin and creamily voluptuous. The women who are truly sexy are those who eat sensibly, but don't count calories or stuff their faces. They exercise, but in a way that they enjoy. They are not prisoners to their body"
"Sexy," Sophie writes, "is inherent in a healthy appreciation for food, in having the energy to romp with your beloved, pick up your baby, cook dinner for your friends... it is feeling sated, having opinions and feeling alive."
Sophie Dahl now lives in London after an eight year sojourn in New York. Her grandfather was the late author Roald Dahl. Her first novel, Playing with the Grown-Ups, was published in 2007. She was contributing editor for Men's Vogue for three years and now works for, amongst others, British Vogue, American Vogue, Guardian, Spectator and The Times.
Miss Vancity Allie asked a great question in the comments about the recipes in the book, so I thought I'd answer right here for everybody.
Each recipe takes a few good quality ingredients and with just some simple preparation and cooking a lovely dish emerges. The recipes are mostly vegetarian, with just a few chicken and fish dishes. There are no demands for special equipment or techniques. Just assemble your ingredients and, as long as you have a basic understanding of how a kitchen works, you’ll be fine. (This is perfect for somebody like me!)
Here are a couple of the first ones that I plan to try:
Pear and Ginger Muffins
Warm Winter Vegetable Salad
And just to give you all an additional little taster, here’s an example of a possible day’s menu for each of the four seasons:
Breakfast: Indian sweet potato pancakes
Lunch: Chicken & halloumi kebabs with chanterelles
Supper: Aubergine Parmigiana
Breakfast: Kedgeree with brown rice
Lunch: Pasta puttanesca
Supper: Monkfish with saffron sauce
Breakfast: Lemon & ricotta spelt pancakes
Lunch: Crab & fennel salad
Supper: Hortense’s fish soup
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with watercress & smoked salmon
Lunch: Fish cakes
Supper: Wild rice risotto