Not only is Carolyn Burke a great biographer, I can still remember her being here in 2007 when her biography of Lee Miller was published – Lee Miller: On Both Sides of the Camera.
In her session today she first read the section from early in her book dealing with Piaf’s first ever commercial concert back in 1936 which she followed by reading from much later in the book about her final tour and concert in 1959 and 1960. She interspersed her readings with tracks of Piaf’s music which was very well received by the audience. Such is Burke’s enthusiasm and passion for Piaf’s music that she swayed to the music “that is the colour of oysters” and she even managed to get the early morning audience to join in and sing one of the songs. She filled in the years between those covered in her reading by giving us an balanced outline of Piaf’s life.
It was a quite wonderful and enlightening session which generated a lively session of questions from the audience.
CLIMBING THE MANGO TREES
One of the absolute stars of the Festival, and one of the great cookery writers, Madhur Jaffrey was next and was nicely introduced by NZ food writer Alexa Johnston who said she owned all of Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook having bought her first one 30 years ago. CLIMBING THE MANGO TREES is a much loved food memoir recently released in paperback alongside her latest cookbook in hardback, CURRY EASY.
This was another standout session with the guest of honour talking about all manner of things ( in an effortless and most entertaining manner) starting with when she was 20 and her father put her on board a ship from Delhi to the UK (she was going to RADA to be an actress) and she was filled with joy and excitement about the new life that was to unravel in front of her. She didn’t know where it would take her but she was full of excitement and passion and energy. (She still is!). This led to other subjects including Indian food (of course), eating and entertaining at home rather than going out to restaurants, acting, RADA , theatre, her movie roles, writing about food for the New York Times and how that came about, Julia Child (she is a huge fan), James Beard, cooking classes, immigration and the role it has played in spreading ethnic cuisines, chillies, spices, her three daughters and her three grandchildren (who all love to cook), sago pudding, knitting, the Caribbean, the influence of Indian food on other cuisines, clay pots, chicken tikka masala and a whole lot more besides.
We were left wanting more and I’m sure many of us will be making curries in the coming days.
Carole Beu – No Regrets, Edith Piaf
Alexa Johnston – Climbing the Mango Trees
Well done mesdames!