Back in the days when we could all pile into a friend’s conservatory and squidge up close Kathy Slack did a fabulous Festival Feast for The Buckingham Literary Festival, at the home of our friends and neighbours the Dixeys. Now, a couple of years later, I have in my hands a copy of her gorgeous first book From the Veg Patch. Beautifully produced, it’s one of those books you want to pick up, to stroke and to cuddle. And of course, as a foodie and recent convert to the art of growing vegetables, I immediately opened it. Silly me. It was a good hour before I got on with doing what I had planned for that morning, earthing up my potatoes. Unlike Kathy I still get more enjoyment from reading about food than growing it; maybe that balance will change but somehow I doubt it.
When Kathy and I first met some years ago at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival I was captivated by her passion for growing and cooking vegetables, something she took to when her seriously grown-up job in advertising began to lose its appeal. A little later, over coffee in the Café at Foyles she told me of her ambition to write a book and to share her enthusiasm more widely. And now the book is done and I have a copy! Not only is it beautiful (well done Ebury Press!) but the recipes are mouthwatering and inspiring – my fledgling beetroots do not know what is in store for them. (There is probably another word for juvenile root vegetables but in Kathy’s delightful writing they seem almost to take wing so I’ll stick with fledgling.)
Many people don’t understand the pleasure that foodies get from reading cookbooks but I was not surprised to read, in The Guardian ‘The Books that made me’ column the book that most influenced the writing of Richard Coles was Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking and the last book that made him laugh was Raymond Blanc’s Simply Raymond.
Reasons to buy From the Veg Patch:
- It is a great read, lovely writing laced with Kathy’s gentle humour;
- It is a source of culinary inspiration;
- It is an object of beauty, ownership of which will probably enhance your life;
- And Kathy is an all-round good egg.