The Official Foodie Handbook

Humble beginnings

I should point out to you dear reader that there are three things that I am most passionate about in this world. They are food, travel and writing. I did not really consider these to be fantastic hobbies or interests when I would hear of people skydiving, playing sports or having an interest in model trains. I actually thought my interests would be rather boring but it turns out that they are actually an ideal mix if you want to be a food writer or have anything remotely to do with food.  For me an interest in food was an interest in actually discovering what my senses could be capable of. As a child, I was becoming transfixed on a television programme that I happened to be watching on television about wine making, yeah I know.. but hey we had vines on vines growing out in our families garden, I thought to my 8-year-old brain if they can make wine, why couldn’t I? So I dragged my dear sister out from what she was doing got her to wash her feet clean and free from whatever was on her feet while I followed suit and cleaned a bucket and we were off to pick grapes to which I hope we washed and then we squished this lot up with our feet allowing the precious nectar to ferment and hopefully in turn, change our grape juice into something that looked more than just juice. How long we must have waited I really couldn’t tell you but that experience taught me so much and where food came from. I knew after then I liked food even more and it enthused me through school where I was given a wonderful book on Home Economics by my teacher and where I loved to dabble in the kitchen right throughout my teenage years. It was sometime before I really discovered my true love of food and here I am today discussing it in a blog, who would have thought?

The book

The Official Foodie Handbook

Author (s)

Ann Barr and Paul Levy



What it says on the back

Join the Palate Revolution

THE OFFICIAL FOODIE HANDBOOK tells how Foodies eat, live, love, shop, travel and agonise over the vinegar.

THE OFFICIAL FOODIE HANDBOOK  is on the march (on its stomach). Foodies know which food writers are in pay of Foodiebusiness (is big business). Foodies book the best tables in London, Lyon, New York and Bangkok. Enlist now and prove you are a real Foodie and you can afford nouvelle cuisine. Pseudie Foodies steal recipes and OD (overdose) on flour. Discover whether pink peppercorns kill. Do battle with the coffee bore, the olive oil bore, the offal bore.

If you like the heat, this is your kitchen.

What made me pick up this book?

Like I said earlier, I love food and all things gastronomy so I guess one called call me a ‘foodie’. I picked this book up in one of my town’s local antique shops. It is in excellent condition I might add and I took a liking to what I read purely because of what it said on it’s front cover “The Official Foodie Handbook“.   Take note of the date 1984.  1984! Crikey I was only 11 years old when this book was published. I do not recall seeing it back then but I knew I liked food.  If I take you on a semi time traveller’s look back to 1984 I remember when our NZ sportsman Mark Todd won a gold at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Madonna had brought out a new song in the form of “Holiday”. I was dancing around to Wham and Wake me up before you Go Go…  and food? What were some of the exciting things that happened to do with food in the 80’s? Check out this link

About the book

The book itself is made up of four parts, five if you want to include the intro. Part one takes us on a journey of THE FOODIE AT HOME and gets us to do a wee quiz to see if we are a foodie and the different types of foodies. It also gives us  the history of the foodie and a bit about the health and well being of a foodie, the kitchen, and food for thought are also found in this section along with a number of other sections devoting to how the foodie evolved.

The second part  THE FOODIE EATS OUT  takes us back to what a foodie is like in a restaurant, restaurant guides and the best places to eat. This section of the book tends to date the book somewhat but doesn’t take away the explanations of what nouvelle cuisine is all about and little snippets of how to order your food in the Eastern parts of the world such as China, India, and Japan. Correctly it identifies that a curry does not really exist at all.

Part three gets exciting where it delves into something that I enjoy immensely. THE GLOBAL FOODIE. Listing cuisines that colonised the world and a foodie international address book are really interesting reading and although I do not have the time to go scrupulously through each address online, if you have the chance check out these addresses more in detail to see if they are still running today. This chapter is interesting as it gives us answers to questions on whether we are plagarising when we copy a recipe (something that I am sure that none of us have really even given much thought) and foodie cookery schools throughout the world.  and finally a list of  well known heroes and heroines in part  four  FOODIE WHO’S WHO a  page each devoted to some of the top names in the food business. Names like Elizabeth David, Madhur Jaffrey, Auguste Escoffier stand out for me.

Is the Book worth buying?

To be honest I think this book deserves to be on our bookshelves. It may be dated in places but it is an excellent reference book for someone who is interested in food and wants to learn more. It is a book which certainly could be revised and updated over time and it is something which could be used in helping someone with an assignment if they were wanting to do any essay on food. I liked this book for its humour and although it is showing signs of its age, it is a great wee book jammed back with lots of interesting tidbits which will keep many of us entertained. I liked it and will be keeping this one on my shelves.

Check out

 The Official Foodie Handbook

 **** Four stars

“Foodism being fashion, you don’t have to live with the same menu for years- you discover, embrace, explore minutely, get bored,  and move on tomorrow to fresh meals and pastas new” (Barr and Levy ,1984).

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