Summer has arrived in the Southern Hemisphere. As I write this it is nudging 40° outside. So, as it is too damn hot to do anything else, I thought I would seek some cooking inspiration from the Hot Weather Cookbook. The book promises:
“Cool easy to prepare meals, featuring luscious fruits, crisp salads, refreshing appetisers, barbecues, light desserts and long, icy drinks”
Bring it on. As I sit here sweltering, I could do with some of those, particularly the long icy drinks! The back blurb further advises that the author Kim MacDonald
“fully understands the problems and potentials of summer food preparation”
As she should, given she has written a book about it. I would expect nothing less. However, the blurb significantly does not claim that Ms MacDonald fully understands the problems and potentials of attention to detail or the problems and potential of colour coordination because there are some shockers in here.
It starts off really well with this lovely artwork. This is not only very pretty but it also has a “Where’s Wally” / hidden object game feel to it. I’ve amused myself for a considerable amount of time locating a garlic crusher, a trident style fork, the ever-present pineapple, a cocktail with an olive in it etc. I’m easily amused. Or possibly delirious. Did I mention how hot it is?
Sadly, the pleasure brought on by that picture doesn’t last long – 14 pages to be exact because that’s when this photo appears.
Did no one involved in this think to take those oranges out of their plastic netting? At first I thought that maybe they couldn’t fully understand the problems of how to photograph a round object without it rolling all over the place. However, other pictures in the book demonstrate that some bright spark realised that oranges can be prevented from rolling by being stacked on top of each other:
Or by being placed in a more appropriate receptacle:
I can only conclude that someone from the art department thought that leaving the oranges in their netting was a creative, citrussy version of fish nets hanging from the ceilings in seafood restaurants. It’s not. It just looks like someone left their shopping on the table.
The styling in this book is BONKERS.
I’ll start with one of the milder examples. I don’t understand why anyone thought this table-cloth would look good with this collection of icy drinks. It clashes with everything else on the page, particularly that purple drink. Although, there’s probably not many places where that drink would fit in. Maybe a circus. One where the clowns kill people.
The next one scares me. There is a distinct “beware of what’s lurking in the dark” vibe. That ivy has a very creepy Evil Dead / Day of The Triffids aura, not to mention the menacing looming shadows. I honestly believe that if you tried to help yourself to some of the Banana Rum Mousse that ivy would wrap itself around your wrist and drag you up the wall kicking and screaming before you could even wonder why the mousse is being served in such inappropriate glasses. And, surely, the only reason for the existence of that tablecloth must be that those colours and swirls do a really good job of hiding the bloodstains left behind by the victims of the evil ivy.
The next photo has an equally hideous tablecloth but there is some internal logic to it. Curry is tropical. Batik is tropical. (But then, to paraphrase my man Martin Lampen, so is dengue fever). You can have too much of a good thing. Which could explain why they chose jonquils for the vase instead of a tropical flower. Personally, I would have gone with a frangipani and a less leery table-cloth but I probably don’t fully understand the problems and potential of theming table coverings and floral arrangements. It’s a good thing Ms MacDonald and team do.
I recently listened to a very entertaining and informative podcast on Stuff To Blow Your Mind about Stendahl Syndrome which is a reaction some people have to great works of art. They can faint, become intensely anxious, or even hallucinate – in short they are utterly overcome by the sheer beauty and magnificence of the works around them. If you want to know more about this fascinating disorder, you can link through to that podcast here:
The reason I mention this is because I had a similar reaction, for the absolute opposite reason, with these next two pictures. Similar in that I started to feel dizzy, headachey and slightly nauseous. Opposite because my reactions were in response to sheer unadulterated ugliness. I honestly felt like these pictures were screaming at me. They not only made my eyes hurt, they made my ears hurt!
I haven’t been able to find existing references to an Anti-Stendahl Syndrome. So, I may have just invented a disorder. Fryer’s Syndrome – what happens when people have an intense physical reaction to something really ugly.
I can’t tell you what appalls me most about this picture of gazpacho. The hideous green tablecloth? The sieved egg yolks that look like maggots? The the ice-cube sitting on the egg? I suspect all of the above. I can tell you it inspired an acute attack of Fryer’s Syndrome. It was however, nothing to the bout of Fryer’s syndrome caused by this:
Oh boy, I don’t even know where to start with this one. I don’t think I can. Being rendered entirely gobsmacked in the face of the fugly must be a symptom of Fryer’s Syndrome.
Ok, I’m now going to try to convince my family that having their previously good name associated with people wanting to throw up in the sight of really ugly stuff is actually a good thing.
As soon as the cool change comes.