With the help of some mouth-watering recipes and sage advice from the Duchess of Windsor – “If you don’t take care you may serve an entire meal pinkish mauve, from lobster bisque to sherbet” – Anne Else’s memoir of her food-entwined life rocketed to five stars and the No. 1 spot on Amazon’s food memoirs’ bestseller list within a few weeks of its release as an ebook original and has stayed there for months. Its publisher, Awa Press, was so impressed it decided to release a print edition.
In The Colour of Food: A memoir of life, love and dinner, due for paperback release in September, Else writes of her life from childhood to marriage, motherhood and now, in her 60s, forging a community of new friends through her food blog Something Else to Eat. Along the way there’s feminism, divorce and remarriage, finding her birth mother, and the heartbreaking loss of her 18-year-old son Patrick and of her husband, poet Harvey McQueen, who died on Christmas Day 2010.
These tales of love, joy and sadness are seasoned with memories of the food that has enriched her life – from “shin meat stew with plump fleshy pieces of kidney” in her childhood, to Harvey’s “venison and sour cherries in a sauce made with cream, Dijon mustard and the cook’s own home-made crab-apple jelly”, and the “salade composée with good blue cheese, a sliced apple or pear and Waikanae friends’ walnuts strewn over my own rocket” that she eats alone.
Wellington cook and food writer Lois Daish is one of many who have heaped praise on Else’s memoir. “I love this enchanting book,” she says. “Anne Else’s poignant story shines a light on how food is intertwined with the joys and sorrows of everyday life.”
Sprinkled with recipes from each era of Anne Else’s life, The Colour of Food is a story that lingers long after the final – printed! – page has been turned.