21 Apr 2010

BOOK REVIEW | Sophie Dahl - Voluptuous Delights

Given that Miss Dahl now has several stone fewer voluptuous delights than she had a few years ago, I was all set to pour middle-aged, blobby-woman scorn all over this book.

I saw it serialised in the magazine of the Mail on Sunday and thought that a few of the recipes looked a bit yummy....but no....this is a gorgeous gazelle-like supermodel and I will NOT be cooking/baking her stuff, thank you VERY much.

Then, in the local library (paying fines - what else?) I spotted the book.

On the cover sits Miss Dahl looking toothily winsome as she slurped soup on the steps of her grandpa's gypsy caravan. That did it for me. Roald Dahl's books have a strange slightly dangerous hold on my son's imagination and I wondered whether she could similarly seduce mine.  

The book is laid out in chapters according to the seasons and each season is divided into Breakfasts, Lunch and Supper - and a section for Puddings tagged on at the back.

By way of introduction to each seasonal chapter, Dahl escorts you through various important stages of her life. From school to her encounter with Isabella Blow that changed her life.....to getting skinny as an adult.  I devoured all the biog info before I even looked at the recipes.

Dahl is a vegetarian, but there are several meat-based recipes in the book and there are lots of eggs!  I also noticed that there isn't much in the way of flour - she tends to use other grains such as spelt.

As a writer, Dahl is just dying to be taken as seriously as her grandpa and there are lots of very interesting turns of phrase that might be just a bit TOO earnest.  However, I forgive her desire to live up to her lineage because the recipes are pretty good.

The recipes are not difficult and the ingredients are reasonably straightforward to get a hold of (remember, I live in the arse-end of beyond).  Our favourites are the breakfast/lunch ones such as her pancakes (spelt) made variously with fillings of butternut squash and cream cheese, lemon and ricotta.....or pear muffins....

The TV series is another beast entirely - shot in someone else's fabulously Country Living style kitchen, it's really a sort of Dahl magazine with her quoting Dorothy Parker and Rumi, chatting about holidaying in Marthas Vineyard or acting in a Bollywood film in India.  Still, I find her rather endearing.

You can get it for just under a tenner on Amazon.

Or get yourself a Seleb one (signed) for £22


  1. Ali -

    I was interested to note that eggs are included, some meat dishes as well. I would have to revert to flour, becuase that is all I have ever used.

    My eyes glaze over when celebs start talking about Martha's Vinyard and doing a Bollywood film. ;-)

    Worth checking out as a library book, though. ;-)


  2. I have been watching the series. I love the kitchen, and I like the mixture of cooking and poetry and banter. I am quite taken with her too, she is pretty honest about wanting to lose weight and things, and even though she's a slip of a thing, I think she still looks healthy.

    I said to Dave last night that I am going to get the book, because I want to eat everything she cooks. I even thought the tofu quesadillas(sp?) looks good, and I despise tofu! And because I have this thing for famous people's cookbooks, I am such a foodie(ie chubber) myself that I find other people's thoughts about food fascinating!

  3. The spelt flour is actually ok to use. However, have made the pancakes with ordinary flour and they were fine.

    Actually, I think the spelt was tastier. I've also bought quinoa and amaranth to use. Was also considering buying the millet - but that really is budgie food in my eyes.

  4. Lisa-Marie - Dave's skin might benefit from a move away from wheat products? Might be worth a try for a month or two anyway?

    I try to keep Blair's dairy and wheat quite low (instead we have rice or oatmilk, oat breakfast cereal, soya yogurts etc)

    I have real milk for coffee though!
    Ali x


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