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Guinea Pig in White Wine Sauce (Alan Rochford, Affirm)

Guinea Pig in White Wine Sauce is the memoir of restaurateur Alan Rochford, whose cottage bistro is tucked away in the Adelaide Hills. Told as a series of anecdotes, the chef regales the reader with tales of disastrous renovations, ferocious customers, the importance of local (poached) produce and his travels through France, where he learned to cook. I realised by a few pages in that this book might not be for me, and the further I read the firmer that conviction became. I would have loved to hear more about the methods and peculiarities of French cuisine and Rochford’s passion for good food, but instead was served a hash of off-colour quips and low-hanging fruit. Perhaps these stories are best delivered in-person with a glass of red in hand, by the crackling fire of the snug described in the book, as they read like a collection of carefully polished yarns that have been told and retold to appreciative friends. Unfortunately, however, they left a stranger like me out in the cold. Some readers will find Rochford’s jokes challenging, particularly in the present social climate. It might be the individual ingredients or it might be the preparation, but I could barely finish my portion.

Anne Barnetson is a bookseller and illustrator based in Perth


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