Moira includes a few dozen recipes in the book, taken from various places and times in her life, which are hit and miss. In the first half of the book, many of them are for strange British concoctions such as Canary Pudding, or equally odd international dishes such as “The Elephant’s Foot,” which I am not really planning to cook. But as with my other impressions of the book, the recipes in the second half offer a vast improvement. Lamb Tajine with Green Olives and Gordon Ramsay’s Pan-Fried Fillets of Red Mullet with Saffron, Fennel Puree and Pink Grapefruit Vinaigrette sound much more palatable.
I agree with Moira that love of food is the force that unifies the various societies of the world. However, I would have liked more reflection on life in different cultures, or analysis of the experience of being a foreigner and, despite the fact that the back cover mostly mentions the locales in which she lived in her youth, this British food critic provides her most interesting writing when she reflects upon her time as an adult living in New York City, moving among the fashionable set of intelligentsia and epicureans.
At times, especially when reminiscing about her childhood spent abroad, Moira’s personal memories can seem ponderous. Her experiences at boarding school were perhaps the least intriguing part of the book for me, because they are mostly personal memories of friends and lessons, which are less captivating for others. As a young adult, Moira had a part time job working at the United Nations. I have a personal fascination with the UN, and I would have a conniption if I could walk those halls. But instead of mentioning world leaders she ran into, or political events that took place while she was there that had reverberations around the world, Moira writes about whom she dated during that time. This would make sense for a personal journal, but just not what I expected when reading a published memoir. I guess I was looking more for impressions, and she gave me facts.