Mimi Biggadike reviews 'Coming to my Senses: The making of a counterculture cook' by Alice Waters

Mimi Biggadike reviews 'Coming to my Senses: The making of a counterculture cook' by Alice Waters

Coming to my Senses: The making of a counterculture cook

by Alice Waters

Hardie Grant Books, $39.99 hb, 320 pp, 9781743793862

Mimi Biggadike

Mimi Biggadike

Mimi Biggadike studied English at the University of Cambridge and works as a freelance journalist. She writes travel pieces and food

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It is a colourful and turbulent life Alice Waters leads. Thankfully, it is turbulent in the fruitful sense, a process of regeneration and creation so nimbly edited into her autobiography, Coming to My Senses, that it strikes one as being deserving of its titular gerund. It relays the creation of both her ethos and her restaurant, Chez Panisse. Both are realised with great clarity throughout the book: style and substance ring together in both her writing and her aesthetic. Artfully crafted as this carefully curated view of a life is, it also remains humble and warm and satisfyingly alien to what we might now consider to be ‘food writing’. There is no ego here; Waters places importance on seasonality and intuition, regardless of culinary training or tradition. And all without bombast, as she herself asserts: ‘Taste is an incredibly strong sensation – it’s deeper than language.’

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