A Home Grown Cook: The Dame Alison Holst Story (Hyndman Publishers) is fresh in the bookshops. This memoir is the writer/chef’s 100th book, something to celebrate. I’m a fan, one of the thousands of home cooks who have turned to her recipes for good homely inspiration.
The Foreword by Sharon Crosbie is a marvelous tribute to friendship. I had an office next door to Sharon in Radio New Zealand back in the 1970s. One of the things I remember vividly about that time is the piles and piles of letters that accumulated every week: people writing in for Alison Holst recipes, after her weekly slot on Sharon’s morning programme. Paper, and more paper, and groans as the envelopes kept coming. But the two became firm friends.
In the Foreword, Sharon writes: ‘[Alison]has a rare gift of friendship and a funny, larky side that her public rarely sees, I suspect. She also lives what she believes: the importance of family and friends, loyalty and kindness. No one who ever rang her at home with a tale of woe and a collapsed cake was turned away; try that with Gordon Ramsay!’
She goes on to relate some of the pair’s adventures when they met up abroad while Alison was promoting New Zealand beef and lamb in the USA and also in London. It’s no secret that being away from New Zealand where nobody knows or recognises you really loosens the inhibitions. ‘ I recall’ writes Sharon, ‘that we descended on Harrods astonished that accessories could really cost THAT much and had to revive ourselves with a slab of Game Pie from the famous food hall, which we hid on our knees in the health food section and cut up with Alison’s Swiss Army knife, (she is never without it). We attempted to divert suspicion by sitting smugly in front of glasses of carrot juice.’