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Culture, Literature

OX Reads: The Food Issue

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The wonderful Kim Harvey, owner of The Mad Hatter Bookshop in Burford and Creative Director of The Burford Literary Festival shares her reading suggestions on this month’s theme.

Finally, the sun has made an appearance and for my family this means alfresco eating every day. My partner prefers to cook with fire but to me it matters not if the food is cooked indoors or outdoors, as long as the rosé is chilled, and we are liberated from the constraints of four walls. Then, not only does the food taste better, but eating becomes a 360-degree elevated sensory experience. Here are a few of our favourite foodie books.

Islands in a Common Sea by Jenny Jefferies

I first started stocking this book because it is beautiful to look at and could take pride of place on any literary coffee table. However, Islands in a Common Sea is so much more than its stunning cover; it is an ode Mother Nature and how we nurture her across the world. It is about coming together to learn from those who have dedicated their lives to a celebration of sustainable and more natural farming and fishing. Just flicking through its pages will make you think of family and friends and the bond we form when we share a meal.

Easy Wins by Anna Jones

I feel now is a good time to confess that I am a cookbook junkie which probably makes you think I am an excellent cook: I am not, which is why I need more cookbooks and so the circle of my addiction continues. Easy Wins is for foodies like me who might find Ottolenghi a stretch but still want to put gorgeous looking dishes on the table – it is a staple and good for the planet. Whether you want to knock up a late supper or provide supper for six – Anna Jones is your friend.

(Note for fellow cookbook junkies, if you ever find yourself wandering the streets of Notting Hill, head to 4 Blenheim Crescent and feast your habit at Books For Cooks.)

Cooking on Fire by Eva Helbaek Tram and Nicolai Tram

Is it just me who thinks the authors names for this book conjure up pictures of Viking long boats and hunks of meat sizzling over gigantic braziers? This book is not about frying sausages on the terrace, Cooking on Fire is about the sensuous experience of building a fire, preparing a meal and the glory of stuffing your mouth with delicious food – definitely with your fingers – as you stare into the flames and relax. If, like me, you have a ‘man make fire’ type Viking at home this is the perfect gift for them.

Food From The Fire by Niklas Ekstedt

If this book had a scratch and sniff cover it would reveal the scent of woodsmoke mixed perfectly with roasted hazelnuts in brown butter. The beauty of Food From Fire is it gives you all the information to forage, forge, smoke and pickle but it also gives you permission to do it from the comfort of your own traditional kitchen. Niklas gives you the best of the outdoors and the outdoors indoors because, let’s be honest, rain can dampen even the sharpest of aspirations.

Cocktails with My Cat by Natalie Bovis

We cannot talk about Summer and food and alfresco without talking about drinks. Obviously rosé is my day-to-day tipple of choice whilst deadheading the roses, but as the sun stretches over the yard arm the mind wanders to something a little more elegant, and so we give you Cocktails with My Cat by Natalie Bovis. Like all good cocktails this book comes with a twist, but this is not an olive or a cherry. As well as cocktails to delight, this books comes with fascinating feline trivia – purrfect for all you cat loving cocktail drinkers.

Please do pop by the Madhatter Bookshop and say hello or if you simply can’t leave the comfort of your sun-longer you can buy all our recommended books and many more online.

You can find all these books at The Madhatter Bookshop, Burford or order from our online shop at /


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