I love books. Not only cookbooks, almost any book will do: a beautifully produced book with thick paper and gorgeous pictures, a yellowing shoddily glued-together one that is falling to pieces as you look at it (but full of the most interesting, if obscure, information imaginable), a well-told children’s story that can be read on several levels, a novel that grips you from the first sentence, and so on. There is almost always something to enjoy in a book.
Growing up in the semi-secluded atmosphere of a sugar plantation, books brought the world to my doorstep and I always had one or more on the go. I read about young people in cold places engaging in all kinds of exciting exploits: midnight feasts in dorms, righting wrongs, playing detective, enjoying cream teas in front of roaring fires or cycling out on summer picnics where they put their bottles of lemonade in clear and swiftly flowing streams to cool. Yes, even then I was quite food-oriented, and to tell the truth, I found it hard to understand the lemonade cooling procedure as our tropical waters were all warm and infused with the rich brown hue of mud. Along the way I developed four burning ambitions, all inspired by the books I read. I wanted to live on a houseboat; and when not on the houseboat, I wanted to travel the land in a gaudily painted horse-drawn gypsy caravan. I also wanted a wicker basket for the handlebar of my red Raleigh bike, like the Famous Five and Secret Seven had. (Enid Blyton has a lot to answer for.) But my most consuming childhood ambition was to one day become an author. How did life turn out?
I now have a basket on my bike. A wire one to replace the worn out wicker one I had before. This being Holland, I may yet get to live on a houseboat, but I am now conscious of the undesirable dampness that it entails. The caravan is alas out of the question as I have become slightly claustrophobic over the years. I wouldn’t mind sitting on the steps of an old wooden one, though, and having my tea there. And, wonder of wonders, I did become an author! But I never imagined that I would write cookbooks. That just happened.
It is the most satisfying thing in the world to write a cookbook. Thinking, scribbling, testing, more thinking, putting it all together and thinking even harder, then going to the photo shoot and seeing my recipes come to life. It begins to become real when the proofs are in front of me. When the advance copy is delivered by the courier, it’s a feeling of complete euphoria. And it doesn’t end there. Internet and social media allow me to interact with my readers on a personal level. So really, what’s not to love about books?