The travel experience is not just the sights and sounds of new locations, the tastes and the flavours make a place too. How many times has that bottle of wine that you bought back from holiday, not tasted quite as good as you remember it?. In this delightful book, Elisabeth Luard travels from deserts to rivers, forests to islands trying new foods and speaking to those that grow or make them. Luard joins hunters in the forests of Maine, looking for their native grey squirrel to make the title of the book. In Sardinia, she samples the finest, and eye wateringly expensive bottarga. Her river trip on the Danube brings a cross between a doughnut and churro, scented with vanilla and in Gujarat learns that it is as much about the customs as it is the food. Tasmania brings the salty tang of oysters and sweet sharp strawberries.
This is not the first of Luard’s books that I have read; that was Family Life an account of her life in Andalusia with her husband Nicolas and four children. Squirrel Pie has that same warm, calm authoritative voice of a lady who takes great delight in finding and sharing fine foods in the countries that she visits. The book is peppered with her lovely sketches of scenes from the markets and kitchens that she visited. At the end of each chapter there are a few selected recipes, each chosen to reflect the location she visits and the flavours encountered that you can recreate in your own kitchen. What permeates the book is the pure delight she has in finding something really nice to eat, and the joy in sharing that experience with you.