15 August 2012 by Denise Slabbert

A Week in the Kitchen

Take the ultimate culinary armchair journey and learn the art of making the perfect Love Sandwich from author and foodie Karen Dudley.

Karen Dudley, author of A Week in the Kitchen

I consider myself to be a great armchair traveller, and 1 of my favourite ways to let my senses take flight is to read cookbooks. To me, food is not just about a recipe, but is also a journey of body, mind and taste buds.

Beautiful meals, beautiful people

One of the finest foodie journeys I have undertaken recently has been imbibing the pages of Karen Dudley’s superb A Week in the Kitchen. The book celebrates Dudley’s eatery in Woodstock, Cape Town, with spectacular images, recipes and anecdotes. The Kitchen is the neighbourhood local, and Dudley is clearly the love and energy behind this awesome eatery.

 'Contrast, colour, a riot of flavour – this is the stuff we live by, this is the stuff we celebrate,' says Dudley at the beginning of the book. And every page illustrates this attitude.

Contrast, colour, a riot of flavour – this is the stuff we live by, this is the stuff we celebrate.

The book depicts the life and times of Karen Dudley and The Kitchen over the period of 1 week in November, and it’s an absolute treat (even for those who can’t cook a morsel).

Every corner of The Kitchen tells a story

The pictures, taken by Russel Wasserfal (combined with the talents of designer Roxanne Spears), burst from the pages: bulgar wheat creating a grainy backdrop to fresh tomatoes, olives and broccoli; icing sugar gently falling atop pretty little almond tarts; and bold radishes, insanely green lettuce leaves and a whole lot of great energy.

But it's the people pictures that tell the story – whether it’s the cute couple exuding young love over a baguette, the svelte hippy mom reading a book, or Dudley herself, arms flung around one of her staff members, enormous grin on her face.

Then there are the words and recipes designed to inspire, enthral and make you wander what’s for dinner. As Dudley herself says: 'Life is too short for the arbitrary, the mediocre, the "nice". If you are going to eat something, however simple, it must be all that it is meant to be. It must be essentially good.'

The recipes are a mix of healthy and decadent options, always using fine, fresh local ingredients – but never, ever boring.

The Love Sandwich comes in many forms and is in big demand at The Kitchen – there are thorough guidelines so that readers can make their own Love Sandwiches back home. 'Remember that any sandwich can be a Love Sandwich when it's offered with loving attention and gentle consideration, always bearing the eaters in mind,' says the rather wise Dudley.

Every page is a delight in a book that combines food, people, decor and life in Cape Town in a very real and rather spectacular way.

And Dudley herself is something of a culinary poet: 'Food made with generosity and attention has the power to grow a community and to make people happy. There is reciprocity here. As we spend our love, so it comes back threefold.'

I have many more happy hours to spend wading through the pages of Dudley’s book, but I have promised myself that the minute I get a gap, I’m off to Cape Town – for a small bit of the Love Sandwich and a good few hours at The Kitchen.

A Week in the Kitchen is published by Jacana and is available at all good bookstores in South Africa.

Category: Food & Wine

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