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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

The Fish and Game Cookbook by Angelo Georgalli

If you’re looking for a recipe to celebrate the magnificent diversity of Kiwi talent; then look no further than this collaboration between; Wild Chef, Angelo Georgalli; the wild and wonderful Dame Lynda Topp, who writes the foreword; and Fish and Game New Zealand.

And there you have it: a great cross-cultural, cross-section of New Zealand icons coming together to bring you this handsome cookbook which will broaden your horizons in so many ways. For example, I was – and yet I wasn’t – surprised that Dame Lynda is herself a hunter with two hunting Labradors, Dream and Rosie. When it comes to the Topp Twins, it pays to expect the unexpected and I could perhaps have guessed that she’d be a keen starter for duck season. She is, in fact, a trustee of Hunters for Conservation; Wild Chef/The Game Chef – call him what you will, either moniker will fit – Angelo Georgalli arrived in New Zealand in 1996, fresh from travelling the world and opened the first of his seven in total restaurants in Auckland’s Dominion Road. Georgalli was born to an Italian mother and Cypriot chef father, so he was almost born into cooking and took an early interest in the preparation of food.

He favours food with a Mediterranean, rustic village feel and has a deep respect for food and the outdoors. Vis a vis, becoming a cultural ambassador for wild food, may seem like a no brainer from the start but for Angelo, it is also an essential part of his quest for balance and harmony in his life after a brush with mental illness. His journey with Fish and Game is also part of his own return to good health.

And Fish and Game itself has a fascinating back story. The society was initially born from a cluster of Acclimatation Societies formed from the first in Auckland in 1861, later spreading nationwide. The aim of these regional societies was initially to oversee the introduction of sport fish and fowl.

One of the first endeavours was – like my own migration - from Tasmania. In 1867 Brown Trout ova were transported in moss-lined boxes to specially-constructed lined ponds in the Canterbury Botanical Gardens.

Fish and Game, as it is now known, was established in 1990 after changes to the Conservation Act which heralded a focus on habitat protection and restoration, ensuring that future New Zealanders are able to continue to enjoy hunting and fishing pursuits.

And it is in pursuit of these goals that this book was conceived and born. The subtle camouflage cover and masculine-looking black inside front cover send a clear message that this cookbook will suit your strong and silent hunter-gatherer types who love to gather their own game. But it will also be a great gift for those who need the push to make it happen.

If I might comment on the design, I would say that the light camouflage cover is perfectly conceived, spelling out exactly what the reader might expect. In my opinion, it would have been a better move to carry that camo theme, or one of the colours lifted from that, to the inside front cover.

I feel the black is a bit heavy and – shall I say – obvious. A common design mistake, as I recall from working with magazine designers who felt fluorescent-brights and primary colours sent a masculine message in the same way as road signs are hard to ignore. Not so. I prefer the show, don’t tell approach. I would also have liked to see more full-page photographs and perhaps some more of those fabulous illustrations. I think these things would have given the book a more contemporary feel, in line with the cool cover.

And it would have been good to know when each of the species covered (and there are many) was in season. I understand that a permit is required but I think this would be handy information from a conservation perspective.

And I mention these things which might be tweaked, not simply to be critical, but because this is a wonderful endeavour and I hope it is repeated. We all need to know more about our heritage and wilderness, and finding out more about how to prepare wild-caught food is a great way to capture our imagination and attention.

Reviewer: Peta Stavelli

Beatnik Publishing


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