This book is deliciously fascinating. What better way to learn about a country’s history than by being introduced to it around a certain food item, such as artichokes, wine or cheese. The author explains how politics, economics and culture link with food in ‘foodways’, which reveal a great deal about a country. We discover many such foodways in this book.

The book is like a plate of nibbles – bite-sized chunks of history and food at a time. We learn about Gauls as the same time as wine, Barbarians and table manners, The Battles of Tours and Poitiers and goat cheese, Charlemagne and honey, Viking invasions and Bénédictine liqueur, feudalism and diet, the Crusades and plums, Eleanor of Aquitaine and claret, Cathars and vegetarianism, taxes and seasalt, the Black Prince and cassoulet, the plague and vinegar, Charles the Mad and Roquefort, the Renaissance and oranges, colonisation and chocolate, sugar, forks and Catherine de Medici, chickens and King Henry IV… and that’s just for starters! Many other snippets of info are sprinkled like condiments over the main ingredients to pique our appetite. This really is a feast of a book.

Just as it’s hard to relinquish a plate a plate of moreish food, it’s very hard to put down the book once you’ve started reading. The author’s style is thoroughly engaging and enjoyable. He’s witty as well as wise, and you learn so much without realising it. He communicates so passionately and knowledgeably it’s hard not to be won over.

Like your favourite restaurant, this book is absolutely to be recommended.

The book is due out on 10 July 2018 from The New Press. My only quibble – it’s rather pricey. The Kindle edition is priced at €18.99 and the print copy at €24.24, which will surely affect its sales. This book has massive appeal but that price tag will put many purchasers off.    

This book

This is a fabulous book. It’s fun and a delight to read, yet packed full with sound, healthy advice and some delicious recipes. You couldn’t get a more qualified author. Beth Aldrich is a Certified Health Counsellor, Healthy Lifestyle and Nutrition Expert. She delivers health, nutrition and balanced living fundamentals through keynote addresses, presentations, lectures and as a media spokesperson – and now this wonderful book. She shares her wisdom, experience and knowledge about health and nutrition topics in an entertaining and engaging way. From food coaching, and living a balanced life to, the energetics of food and finding your passion, Beth delivers her message with charm and inspiration. She talks directly to her readers calling us ‘ladies’, ‘girls’, and ‘girlfriends’. It’s like having a conversation with a best friend who also has a wicked sense of humour.

The book offers a systematic and appealing approach to improving your diet. Beth suggests 5 steps to take each week towards improving your diet, and explains why they’re important. There are ten weeks’ worth of such tips and advice. For example, week three is all about cutting down on salt, fat and sugar. Beth does this, not by banning these products completely, which would be an unrealistic and totally impractical demand, but by suggesting healthier types of salt to use and alternative sweeteners. And you’re even encouraged to eat chocolate – a square of dark chocolate a day is positively good for you. Thank heavens for that!

Subsections within the book on food nostalgia, food the author is loving right now and interesting facts crop up about food items. There’s always a conversational tone and we can feel ourselves being gently won over by all this common sense persuasion. Once the advice is all given, we move on to putting the plan into practice.

Occasionally there are a few non-attainable ideals. For example, the author says how she may be tempted to eat a bagel for a quick energy boost, but knows that a plateful of quinoa and vegetables will set her up much better. That isn’t always something that’s feasible, or even desirable. The book is aimed at the American market and there are mentions of ingredients and snacks that Europeans haven’t heard of (granola, Raisinets) and also equipment. I’m still not entirely sure what a Vitamix is other than that it’s a robust bit of machinery!

There are lots of tempting recipes throughout the book but the majority are in the last section. There are still quick explanations, asides such as advice on sitting straight, so it never becomes a dusty recipe collection. There are day plans listing the meals for the day so you don’t even have to think. Personally I find this just a little too much, although in a very nice way, but such meal plans would be ideal for many people and you know you’re getting 24 hours of the best nutrition possible.

By the end of this book you have all the knowledge you need to create the diet that you love and which your body will thank you for. You will certainly be drinking more water, starting the day with a smoothie (I mean, how can resist the thought of a peanut butter chocolate green smoothie for breakfsast!) and avoiding the foods that don’t suit you.

And of course, you don’t have to be a mother to benefit from this book. Beth has target moms since they are the ones most likely to neglect their own diet and health when they are so busy looking after everyone else in the family, and generally have the most work on their plate. That doesn’t always leave space for healthy food there too.