Skip to main content

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

A couple of years back, my friend sent me a mail. "This woman dumped the guy a day before their wedding because he wanted to get rid of her books. You HAVE to read this!". That evening, I went to my neighborhood bookstore and made my first acquaintance with the residents of Guernsey Islands. And not just any residents, these were the people who had just been through several years of German occupation and were now just getting used to living their lives again. It's 1946, and one of these people gets writing to our heroine, author of several books and living in London.

From then on, the lives of Juliet and the people of Guernsey intertwine. What the book manages to do, in a series of letters (for that's how it's written from start to end), is bring the war closer to our lives. It talks of soldiers and the people of the captured island not as enemies, but as humans who each have been given a role to play.

I don't say this often, but as I read this book the third time for this month's edition of This Book Makes Me Cook, I had to say this : if you only read 5 books in your life, make this one of them.

Because the book talks so much of food shortage and rationing in World War II, I went back and looked for those recipes. No eggs, no butter, no sugar and very little meat - indeed the people had to adapt to cook with what they had. And what they had plenty of at the time was root vegetables. There are recipes galore using carrots, onions and potatoes instead of whatever the dish called for. Of these clever adaptations, I picked the eggless mayonnaise, made with a cooked potato instead.



To make this mayonnaise, boil a small potato. Peel it and mash half of it. You can save the rest for something else. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 2 tbsp vinegar. Beat well with a fork; then start to add olive oil in a drizzle, beating it as you go. You would probably need 1/3 cup of oil by the time it reaches the consistency and flavor of mayonnaise.

Is it as good as the real thing? Well, no but if I were stuck with no eggs, I think this will come pretty close!

Comments

CurryLeaf said…
Excellent.What you say is true.This book must not be missed.I had almost given up on it but got it just two days back.I do not feel like keeping it down but have to but am very glad that I am reading it.Thanks to BookClub.I will also be ordering the next one as early as possible.Waiting sucks.
BTW,the book has given a guernsey site which has several recipes as well.

PS:I too will surely dump a guy if he is against my books.But nothing can be done if this is known after marriage :(.Well an agreement can surely be reached.And thus I am keeping select books while ordering new ones every month-all within a budget.And my new house has a library cabinet as well.
Desisoccermom said…
You are so right. I think a lack of certain essentials is essential for that innovative spirit, especially in cooking. I have never heard of potato mayo but I will take it over the real thing anyday.

I loved Juliet. So smart, witty, funny and independent for her time. I absolutely adored her. This was a really good read. I couldn't put it down till I finished it and now I am reading it all over again for the review.
notyet100 said…
feel cee if i can find tis book in library
Yes, it is indeed a good book. I have to pronounce the potato mayo "interesting" but in times of difficulty one must make the best of what one has.

I am well enough to write this comment, so maybe I can have my post done in the next 2 or 3 days. Can't promise you a "austere" dish, but you can expect some potatoes. :D

Luckily for me, all three of us are book lovers, the only problem now is finding space for them!
Unknown said…
Hey Simran,

Even i wanted to participate in the event, but cldnt find any of the books in the store here, so coulnt, maybe 4m next time , i'll order online as u had informed me.

Pinky
Adele said…
Very beautiful, Simran. The dumping of the fiance was also one of my favourite parts of the book. Love your recipe.
Nachiketa said…
Books... Books.... Books... everywhere on my bedside.. shelf... bag n mom's constantly asking me to settle up...... I know what this girl's talking about :)

Nice choice of mayo made of potatoes... :)

Cheers,
The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts - Nachiketa
Catch me on facebook @ Crazy Over Desserts

Popular posts from this blog

Healthy Spinach Rice for Microwave Potluck Party

Is it really two years that Srivalli has been running her innovative microwave cooking event. She's prompted me to try my microwave for more than just heating several times. Just like last year, Srivalli celebrates the event anniversary with a potluck party. I took a dessert to the party last time around, but this time I was rooting for something healthier. I turned to last year's roundup, and there was this spinach rice. Valli, hope you don't mind getting the same dish on the menu again.

To make spinach rice, wash and soak 1/2 cup rice. In a microwave safe dish, heat a tsp of ghee for 30 seconds. Add 5-6 peppercorns and heat for another 10 seconds. Now add a small onion, chopped finely and microwave for another 30 seconds. Add a cup of finely chopped spinach, 1/2 a tsp of garam masala and another 1/2 tsp of salt. Mix and cook for 2-3 minutes until the spinach wilts. Add rice to the bowl, and a cup of water then pop it back in the microwave for 5 minutes. Bring it out and…

The Bread Whisperer

What do an electrical engineer, a monk and an IT trainer have in common? These are all the things Abhilash was before he turned his attention to bread baking. Not the one to pick an easy path, Abhilash started with the most temperamental of breads - the sourdough - as his baking adventure. At first, he was baking these loaves for himself. Accolades from friends and family quickly followed and much to the delight of this writer, he turned his passion into a full time career six months back.

For the uninitiated, a sourdough bread is made by fermenting the dough with naturally occurring yeast, making it harder to perfect than the bread made with commercial yeast. The bread's signature tang and the open crumb, with lots of holes, is only made better with a high hydration dough that is super tricky to master. While extremely popular around the world, good sourdough is an elusive commodity in Mumbai and there are only a handful of bakers I would trust when I am looking for bread.

Thoro…

Mystery Fruit

This only happened a few times every year, just when the rainy season kicked in. A street hawker will come by, straw basket on head. He will yell "kaul chapni" and I will run out to buy a bundle of these. Stuck together like flowers, they looked like a bouquet. Every hole contains a little fruit. You break out the package, peel the tiny fruit that pops out and eat it. Done slowly, it can take you an hour to eat an head. Or did, when I was about 12 years old.

That was the last time I saw this fruit. I've never seen it again, didn't even know what it was called or where it came from. Three weeks back, Vikram Doctor wrote about a store in Khar that sells Sindhi foods. He described this fruit and I knew it came from my vivid childhood memories. And finally, I knew we were talking about lotus fruit.

Now talk about coincidences. Last weekend, I was passing by a lane in Bandra and for the first time in many, many years I saw the straw basket filled with my mytery fruit. It…