Author and blogger Charlotte Wood.
Author and blogger Charlotte Wood. Contributed

Feel the 'lurve' in the kitchen

FANCY ingredients, elaborate presentations and stressful preparation - Charlotte Wood's cooking has none of that.

What it does have is an extra serving of love and passion with every meal.

For the fiction author-turned- food writer, cooking, food and eating is all about pleasure, love and passion.

It seems only natural that when we chat, Wood is in the middle of cooking. Outside, the rain is pouring down and the wind is howling so she's in the kitchen whipping up some beef pies.

She says that in this age of gastro-porn, MasterChef and the fetishisation of food, there is an overwhelming amount of pressure to produce the sort of food we see whipped up by celebrities and contestants.

"I think shows like MasterChef and their emphasis on creating restaurant food has raised the bar for home cooks," she said

"I love MasterChef but it is the opposite to how I cook at home. For me, cooking is all about relaxation and meditation.

"Styling and plating - I don't bother with any of that. I generally just plonk it down in the middle of the table. For me, it is more about sharing food with others."

Her latest book Love and Hunger: Thoughts on the Gift of Food is a departure from her usual fiction and was born from her passion project, food blog How To Shuck An Oyster.

Love and Hunger explores the solitary and shared pleasures of cooking and eating.

It is an ode to good food, prepared and presented with minimum fuss and maximum love.

Already, Wood has been overwhelmed with the response to the book and she has received dozens of emails thanking her for bringing the joy back into cooking.

"It has really touched a nerve with people who aren't confident cooks and has allowed them to realise their food doesn't have to be perfect," she said.

"It doesn't have to be restaurant standard which takes the stress out of it."

Wood hopes her book can inspire people to get into the kitchen.

"One of the best reactions I've got was from a young cook who said, after years of falling out of love with cooking, she had fallen in love again," she said.

Wood first fell in love with cooking during university where she studied writing.

"When I left home, I cooked for myself as everyone does but it wasn't until I met some people at uni and I realised cooking was about the mind as well as the body," she said.

"I learnt cooking could be a creative act, not just to feed yourself but part of a creative way of life and was something deeply pleasurable.

"Cooking also becomes a portal into other cultures and is a pathway into thinking about the world.

"When I cook, I feel like I am in my proper skin."

 

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