A Merry Company - Food & Travel Writing

Cookbook, tribute, memoir and cross-cultural commentary, A Merry Company celeb-rates life at the table. It describes an ‘intuitive’ culinary approach — with recipes that are flexible, adaptable, and simple to prepare. Assembling classic dishes from the author’s family in Los Angeles, from years of hosting literary readings (from Paradise Lost to Macbeth) and All Girls’ Parties in Austin, Texas, it also describes the adventures of an American living for several years in the Netherlands.

The book includes recipes from Norbert Tillard in the Dordogne, France, and shrewd observations from famed restaurant owner Steve Pilling in Manchester, England — along with castings for ‘Sunday Shakespeare’ devised by Professor Gareth Morgan.

A distinctly academic theme flows through the book, with reflections on dining at High Table in Oxford colleges, writing biography (which inevitably entails going out to lunch), and pursuing research in the Bodleian Library on vintage Fortnum & Mason advertisements in 1920s London. It ponders the exasperations of learning Dutch as a foreigner, coupled with a passion for living exclusively with bicycles as a mode of transport. In the midst of wild enthusiasm for convivial parties, and a lifelong devotion to the joys of eating, drinking and talking, it also sketches broad outlines of what one should not say at the table — including thoughts on the perils of banquet tables and assigned seating. It concludes with a description of playing pianos in cafés, revelations about the economics of being a street musician, and delight in the highly volatile combination of music, food, and joie de vivre.

We should all have more feasting and revelry. Renaissance polymath Robert Burton recommends it as an antidote against melancholy: ‘none so apposite as a cup of strong drink, mirth, music and merry company.’ We must rush out to cafés and throw open the doors of our own homes. It is easier than you might think.

A Merry Company describes numerous genres of social gatherings: All Girls’ Parties, Sunday Shakespeare readings, conversation at Oxford High Table, not to mention the tortuous difficulties of trying to speak in a foreign language. Above all, this book celebrates life at the table. ‘Le bien manger, c’est vitale,’ observes Alain Dutournier: to dine well is to live well.

The most important element is camaraderie.

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ISBN: 978-90-817700-3-3

A Merry Company will be available to buy from Amazon 27th October: www.amazon.co.uk

€20 / £16 / $27

Postage and packaging:
UK: £2.80
European Union: £4.02
US & Canada: £6.94
Rest of World: £7.00

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