Sunday, February 10, 2019

Adventures of a Terribly Greedy Girl - Kay Plunkett - Hogge

A memoir of food, family, film and fashion.

I found Kay Plunkett - Hogge's books fairly late when I bought a copy of 'Aperitivo' about 18 months ago. It was one of those things that doesn't look like it's for you (I have never developed a taste for Campari, or any real enthusiasm for Aperol - I do not care for Negroni's, and I have strong opinions about Martini's that are diametrically opposed to Kay's*) but you end up loving and finding really useful.

There was a good bit about vermouth in it - an underwritten drink - and it's an enjoyable book to read.  The Sherry and Tapas book remains on my wish list, and from what I've seen of 'Make Mine a Martini' it's full of excellent drinks advice too - but space is short, and so is money. I can't buy all the books, however much I want to.

I did get 'Adventures of a Terribly Greedy Girl' after a twitter exchange on Thursday evening though, and its seen me happily through the weekend. It's a sort of memoir with a couple of relevant recipes to round off each chapter. Kay Plunkett - Hogge has had an interesting life, early years in Thailand, and a varied career in food, fashion, and film. She's funny, opinionated, and has some excellent advice to impart.

This book is a light skim through her life, concentrating on the stories and memories she wants to share and I more or less read it in two sittings. Somewhere about half way through I went from thinking that it was fun but light to feeling it was something more than that. Her thoughts on clean eating where one turning point. It's a short and pithy section that makes the point that if the would be clean eating guru isn't photogenic they're not going to have much of a career.

Of all the things you can say about Clean Eating as a fashion what better highlights the underlying problems with it than that observation? The chapters 'An English Cook in a California Kitchen' and "It's All Fusion, Stupid!" are really worth reading at a moment where perceived authenticity is so highly valued, and just after the stramash about M&S's inauthentic vegan Biryani wrap with its attendant accusations of cultural appropriation.

There's also excellent advice about throwing parties, how to party through a coup (a stiff whisky and soda is part of the answer), the horror of finding a (live) rat in the toilet, or a snake in the bath. Many useful reminders that if a job isn't right you can change it, and so much more - and all with recipes to match. She's also absolutely right about cupcakes, and pretty much every thing else she writes about.

More than anything though it's the feeling of being in really excellent company when you read this book that's made it such a delight. Kay talks about thinking 'What would Martha (Stewart) do?' in the midst of various domestic mishaps. I think my mantra might well be what would Kay do? I'm pretty sure the answer would be to mix an excellent Martini and make the best of it which is advice I can follow.

*The perfect Martini described here is very dry, with just a dash of Noilly Prat vermouth in it. My preference is roughly a third vermouth, to two thirds gin.