Saturday, February 8, 2020

Spirited - Signe Johansen

I mentioned this book a bit in the run up to Christmas because I genuinely think it's a useful one to have in the kitchen, but it concerns me a bit too. Part of Johansen's mission is to make the world of drinks more female friendly, something I'm 100% behind - it has after all been what I've spent 20 years of my working life doing, but I don't entirely recognise the wine world she describes.

I think that's mostly because I don't spend a lot of time in London, but it's depressing to realise how exclusive the wine world can still be. Even more so for me because part of the reason I fell into the drinks trade was because it felt quite woman friendly.

There are women at every level, and with real power within the industry, it may still be male dominated but there's no shortage of great female role models. But then I like the nerdy stuff too. It's not necessary for your enjoyment of wine although I'd argue that the more you know the more it gives you more to enjoy.

Beyond that I'm with Johansen all the way. What she brings to this book is a cooks perspective and palate. She covers tea, coffee, smoothies, drinks which are projects to make, things which can be foraged, and a useful list of cocktails and winter warmers. There's also a useful list of food and drink pairings (snacks as well which not everyone thinks to include).

It's good to see a proper emphasis on non alcoholic options, as well as a proper appreciation of the value of a bit of care and ceremony when it comes to making a cup of tea, coffee, or any other drink. I still don't think you find the same suggested levels of machismo snootiness outside of London (at least I've not encountered it in Leicester or other similarly provincial cities), but I'm thoroughly fed up with earnest mixologists cocktail books which do get beyond the M25 (unlike half the ingredients they want).

This at least is a book anyone can use, and that's definitely worth raising a glass to.

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