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Wild Asparagus, Wild Strawberries

Two years in France

Barbara Santich

Wild Asparagus, Wild Strawberries
I drank Normandy farmhouse cider, ate strawberries dipped in red wine then sugar, and tasted truffles and soft goat cheeses for the first time. I returned to Australia inspired to become a food writer.

France bewitched Barbara Santich as a student in the early 1970s. She vowed to return, and soon enough she did - with husband and infant twins in tow.

Wild Asparagus, Wild Strawberries tells the story of the magical two years that followed. Buoyed by naive enthusiasm, Barbara and her husband launched themselves into French village life, a world of winemaking, rabbit raising, cherry picking and exuberant 14 Juillet celebrations.

Here we see the awakening of Barbara Santich's lifelong love affair with food history. And also a lost France, 'when the 19th century almost touched hands with the 21st'. Shepherds still led their flocks to pasture each day and, even near the bustling towns, wild strawberries hid at the forest's edge.

Praise for Wild Asparagus, Wild Strawberries:
'A lovely recollection of a way of life that sadly is changing, but it is reassuring to know that there is still a shepherd leading his flock to pasture somewhere above the village of Nizas. This book is a pleasure to read, and for the cooks among us, there is an index to the recipes at the end.' - Helen Eddy, ReadPlus

'There is a liveliness and immediacy to the writing that erases the intervening forty years since the sojourn the book describes' - Paul van Reyk, Compost

'This highly readable account of an Australian family settling into French villages is peppered with some of the recipes she mastered during that time, some from old cookbooks, others from local cooks ... The whole book is nostalgic and delicious.' - Jennifer Somerville, Good Reading

'A gentle and charming book ... This memoir may inspire you to follow in [Santich's] footsteps.' - Diana Carroll, Advertiser

'I was sucked into Barbara Santich’s French experience from page one. As she first took me with her from their arrival in France, then described what she sees, the people they meet and, oh my goodness, the food she eats. I was entranced ... A memoir that kept me riveted until the last page.'- Sally Roddom, Books and Musings from Downunder

'Many books have been written about living abroad, and the literal and personal odysseys such experiences become. There’s Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, and my own favourite, The Bottlebrush Tree: A Village in Andalusia by Hugh Seymour-Davies. Not one of these has rung as many bells and reawakened so many memories of those impulsive, intrepid years when no daydream seemed impossible, as Wild Asparagus and Wild Strawberries, by Australian writer and food historian Barbara Santich.' - Alexandra Gregori, She Gathers No Moss

'A perfect book for anyone who loves travelling to France, or who yearns to travel to France, or for world-weary tourists who feel nostalgic for France ‘as it used to be,’ or for anyone who loves reading about food!' - Lisa Hill, ANZ Litlovers LitBlog

'Santich writes with an ease and fluidity that belies the underlying craft. Words are carefully chosen, prose is evocative but never overblown. Santich wears her erudition lightly (she has a degree in Medieval French Literature from the Sorbonne, among other academic achievements) but her intelligence infuses every chapter. A keen observer, she is not happy just to look at her surroundings and the people she meets, but seeks to understand them, to unravel what makes people think differently from one another, to walk in their shoes.' - Janet Boileau, Taste and Travel

'While telling Santich’s personal story, the book also creates a multi-dimensional portrait of a country on the cusp of political and social change. These changes are reflected in the author’s observations on food, its production and producers, and its cultural relevance. This perspective distinguishes this volume from other ex-pat-living-in-France memoirs, and provides substance for readers less focussed on food.' - Jeannette Delamoir, Newtown Review of Books

Barbara Santich is a highly respected food writer, culinary historian and academic, with an abiding interest in French food, cooking and eating, currently focused on eighteenth-century Provence. Her book on Australian food history, Bold Palates: Australia's gastronomic heritage, was shortlisted in the non-fiction category of the 2013 Prime Minister's Literary Awards.
Format Paperback
Size 210 x 140 mm
ISBN 9781743055335
Extent 296 pages
Price: AU$34.95 including GST
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