Hello dear reader,
I mentioned in a recent post that there were two blogs which inspired me to start my own food blog and which I still delight in reading. One of them is Not Quite Nigella written by the beautiful Lorraine Elliott and described by her as “the slightly eccentric eating, cooking and travel adventures of a Sydney girl who loves cakes, cooking, Nigella Lawson and eating”.
What you find on investigating Lorraine’s blog is inspiring original recipes, drool-inducing photographs, envy-inducing world travels, and someone who is so in love with what they do that it shines through. I’m not alone in thinking this – Lorraine has hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide and has recently released her own book!
“My path to happiness through baking and blogging” is the tagline Lorraine has gone for. What could be more engaging in this modern world where we all try hard to find our own brand of happiness! How clever it is that the cupcake wrapper is pulled down in such a teasing way, a bite out of the cupcake enticing us in. It also sets the scene for the personality of Lorraine’s writing style which is informal, intimate, honest, fun and engaging.
Now I am not usually one to notice the publisher but it makes me inordinately pleased to see the Penguin logo.
It reminds me of happy childhood times when most of my books sported that logo. However I am left a bit perplexed as to why the side bars are orange, the Penguin code for fiction.
Having read Lorraine’s blog, I know this isn’t fiction but a reflection of how she is living her day-to-day life. I could have understood the dark blue of Autobiographies or even the yellow of Miscellaneous, since Lorraine describes herself as a little eccentric and is therefore difficult to pigeon-hole. Surely, though, most appropriate for this journey into how she has changed her life would be the pink cerise for Travel and Adventure?
Oh, sorry! My logical, classifying brain got a bit bogged down there in unimportant colour technicalities! Now that I think about it, do Penguin even use the colour coding any more??
So what is this book about?
The highs and lows of life, the ups and downs of blogging, threats of legal action, the sublimeness of a good pastry, the technicalities of copyright, the joy and frustration of cooking experiments, the extremes of society and so much more. An interesting read of a life changed from well-paid corporate drudgery and frustration, to poorly-paid but interesting days full of fun, happiness and joy. You don’t even have to be a foodie to enjoy this book. However, like all foodies, Lorraine’s life, thoughts and very soul revolve around food. Life’s highs are celebrated with food and life’s lows are consoled with food – “when life gives you lemons…”, well I leave you to read her book to find out what to cook with them!
So, this is meant to be a review, what of the highs and lows of the book? Here are a few snippets that jumped out at me…
Mr NQN’s aunt & uncle in Finland have a walk-in fridge, which Lorraine describes as “instant want!”. I say “a what? A walk-in fridge? In their house? Ooh – instant want too!” and I promptly get side-tracked becoming immersed in half an hour of fridge-heaven on t’internet. This is one of the beauties of Lorraine’s book – it takes you off on tangents of foodie research you’d never even thought about before, immerses you in worlds you never even knew existed!
Lorraine loves quirkiness and strung throughout the book are wonderful moments with her equally quirky friends and family. At one point I thought this intimate look into life with her nearest and dearest detracted from the food…
Breakfast: the food mentioned in passing – “puffy deep-fried bear claws”; the focus – family, language barriers and communication. I was left thinking “wooah – hold up there – deep fried what for breakfast”. I expected a full explanation once I turned the page but no! Perhaps Lorraine eats bear regularly and didn’t think it warranted explanation or description. Back to t’internet to find out more about these bear claws and my responses are “aaah, I see” and “why don’t we have them here” and “mmm – must have a go at that sometime soon” and “ok, sorry to have doubted you Lorraine”!
Next we are deep in Parisian patisserie food porn, with the adjectives flowing freely and the food drool-worthy.
Further on there is a heart-touching story of a Greek family planning a trip to Australia to meet long-lost relatives – all because of a blog post Lorraine published about her visit to a little cafe in Sydney.
Later an account of the ingenious ways a group of food-lovers in a nearby prison manage to sate their foodie desires, all within prison rules.
I feared the story in the final part of her journey would end up with Lorraine also behind bars, as she risks arrest at the social event of the year with the help of a wineglass!
Each chapter has a recipe at the end which relates to what you’ve just read about. It’s a quirky way to write a book but then, that’s Lorraine all over.
Of course, this is all woven beautifully into Lorraine’s own personal “path to happiness through baking and blogging”!
So, don’t let that Penguin orange fiction code at the start mislead you! This book is no fiction, this is the real and true account of lives changed, bakes baked, posts blogged, meals eaten, countries visited, chefs met and happiness achieved. Funny, witty, inspirational!
Not Quite Nigella by Lorraine Elliott is available from all good bookshops in Australia, or elsewhere as an e-book online via Amazon.
Disclaimer: I paid for my own digital copy of Lorraine’s book. I was not asked to nor paid to write this review and all opinions are my own.