First, do not open this book if you are in a hurry. Save it for a time when you have a few minutes to spare, a chance to sit down in a nice chair, a glass of something at your side, and just... start... to... dream...
This latest book from Donna Hay is not a thing for rushing, but it is a work for contemplation, a chance to consider food and hopefully a precursor to a pleasant evening or two in nice company.
Looking at seasonal ingredients and how they can be combined together, this is really a recipe book hidden inside a sort-of inspirational lifestyle book. Camouflaged between lots of wonderful pictures that could look great framed on your wall, the author entices you in to her world, helps tune you in to her mindset and lets your tastebuds determine your destiny. This might sound a bit of pretentious twaddle but here the author and her publisher's team of talented designers have really managed to make a true fusion between a practical, good recipe book and an inspirational, aspirational lifestyle book. A sort of marriage for practical food-lovers made in heaven?
From the very first page to the very last page the reader is left nearly in a suspended dreamworld. Yet there is nothing fussy or unachievable here. Quite the contrary. The recipes, of which there are a lot, are almost an afterthought. As if placed there in a half-hearted apologetic way. Yet they are not haphazardly thrown in either. If you see the book you will understand what this means. They just sort of fade in and out. They are there when you need them but they don't get in the way either.
Taking a boring, practical approach the book needs more signposting, it needs to be easier to jump in and out, it needs an approximation of how long a recipe might take, how fattening (or not) it could be but... well.. pffff... Go and get another book if you want that! Don't rush it. Don't spoil it. Meander your way through the book, find what you want and bookmark it. Bookmark other things for later. If you absolutely must be oh-so-practical and in a bit of a rush, use the good index that sort of appears at the back.
The author gives you a lot of great recipes, stunning visuals to look at, much thought for your food (or should that be food for thought) and a reason to want to perhaps stumble into the kitchen and knock up a little dish or two. Split into the four seasons and then split further into savoury and sweet, you can find something for every tastebud. A few favourites and maybe something new and untested (for now). The recipes do seem achievable by even the most inexperienced cook - after all you are not going to be rushing these recipes are you? The recipes are concisely written but contain everything you need all in one place.
About the only real complaint, or should that be a niggle, is the binding. It keeps wanting to close the book on the reader and it does seem a shame to force the spine. Of course, in time, with lots of consultation, it will become a tired, floppy old sort of binding, holding the pages together with a relaxed sort of grip. Yet at the start it does seem a little sacrilegious to be a little rough with this gem... Unfortunately, it is not possible to give more than five YUMs (or stars) as the scale stops at five... Love at first sight and hopefully a long, lasting relationship ahead (with this book).