Maggie Beer

Maggie shares a special title from her bookshelf French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David

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A friend gave me this wonderful cookbook as a wedding present 40 years ago. I read it like a book because there are so many interesting combinations of unique foods, such as serving octopus with avocado. It is one of the most magic recipe marriages ever. I can almost taste it as it is still a favourite family dish. You cook the whole octopus, cool, then carve and toss it with luscious avocado and tomato and rocket.

The recipes are fairly vague, giving you some wonderful ideas, which is all I ever needed because I’ve always been a natural cook. I come from a real foodie family so food was an important part of my life growing up. My father was obsessive about quality and flavour and we were always adventurous eaters. Mum would get the best cuts of rump and dad aged his fillets of beef, quite ahead of his time.

Cooking for people you love is more than just about the food. You can always tell when something has been cooked with love.

It wasn’t until we moved to the Barossa Valley 35 years ago that I really fell upon how wonderful this book was about provincial French life while I was living in provincial Australia. This is one cookbook I go back to because it is so good.

Maggie Beer is the 2010 Senior Australian of the Year. Her latest cookbook is Maggie’s Kitchen (Lantern, $59.95).

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