Book Club Reading Guide: Roast Figs, Sugar Snow
Diana Henry's song to winter food
We have a very special, festive True Stories Book Club on Wednesday 20th December, 7pm UK/2pm ET/11am PT. This month, my guest will be Diana Henry, who will be joining me to discuss her gorgeous book, Roast Figs, Sugar Snow: food to warm the soul.
Please note: this date has changed from last week!
Here’s a brief reading guide to get you up to speed. Just in case this is your first book club:
Paid subscribers can join us live online for the discussion - a link and password will be posted in the Chat.
If you can’t make it, a full replay will be available straight afterwards from the same link (or a little later in your podcast feed).
You’re welcome to send in questions for Diana - please post them in the comments. Don’t be shy; it’s always lovely to get your input!
About the book
This is not just a recipe book - although, God knows I love recipe books. Diana Henry’s classic song to winter cuisine is a biography of a season and an anatomy of a mood, told through the medium of food.
Reissued and revised after 20 years, Roast Figs, Sugar Snow invites slow, careful reading, curled into the soft embrace of an armchair. ‘I’m a cold weather person,’ writes Diana. ‘Give me silent snow, hail that could shatter glass and biting wind that stings my cheeks. I like the way of life and of cooking that this weather engenders. Turning inwards can be a good thing and the kitchen is the very best retreat.’
The run-up to Christmas is the perfect time to share this treasure, scattered with quotes from the literature of winter. There are moments when it feels like an anthropology of Northern Europe, with dishes such as Hot Lightning (a casserole of apples, pears, potatoes and bacon) and Peasant Girls in a Mist (stewed apples with breadcrumbs and cream) revealing so much in their names alone. I have a longstanding ambition - as yet unfulfilled in the warm microclimate of Whitstable - to try the New England delicacy Sugar-on-Snow, a kind of toffee made from drizzling maple syrup and butter onto compacted snow, apparently served with dill pickles.
Diana is not only a legendary cook, but also a great lover of the literature of winter. In this final book club of the year, we’ll be talking about the meaning of food in this long season, and roaming through the books and stories that speak to this time of year. She also has recent personal experience of wintering, a long and life-threatening bout of illness that inspired her to turn back to the dishes that offer comfort, solace and warmth in the coldest of times.
Listen to Diana on Desert Island Dishes.
Diana’s regular Telegraph column.
About Diana Henry
Born in Northern Ireland, Diana Henry’s life-long love affair with cooking began when she spent a year in France as a 15-year-old exchange student. She started her career on TV as a producer of food programmes including TV Dinners presented by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. She moved onto food journalism after the birth of her first child, writing regular features for the Telegraph, the New York Times, and many other magazines. She is also a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 4.
Her first book, Crazy Water Pickled Lemons, came out in 2002 and was shortlisted for the Glenfiddich award. Since then she has published several bestselling cookbooks, including Cook Simple (2010), A Bird in the Hand (2015) which won the James Beard Award 2016, How to Eat a Peach (2018) and From the Oven to the Table (2019). She has won many awards, including the Andre Simon Memorial Fund, the James Beard Foundation, Fortnum & Mason and the Guild of Food Writers.
Hope to see you there on 20th December!
If you think a friend or loved one would enjoy The Clearing by Katherine May, gift subscriptions are available here | Website | Buy: Enchantment UK /US | Buy: Wintering UK / US | Buy: The Electricity of Every Living Thing UK / US
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