Celebrating the Senses

October 30, 2013 by  
Filed under current, Reading Space

Aphrodite by Isabel Allende


Apples. Honey. Pears. Rosemary. Strawberries. Figs. Asparagus. Chocolate. All are foods associated with love and sensuality, with appetites, fulfilment…and with Aphrodite. At times it seems our world has forgotten the delights that food can bring. Instead, we have become obsessed with diets and nutritional information. The power and sensuality of our palettes and our appetites has been abandoned in favour of combating the ‘obesity epidemic’ and regulating our waistlines.

In Aphrodite, the Chilean novelist Isabel Allende wants to reawaken our senses. She wants to delight and inspire us in the kitchen and in the bedroom. She reminds us through story, through illustrations and through recipes that food has a sensual quality; that food and sex are entwined. It is a slightly strange book to categorise – it is part-memoir, part-history of sensual foods and part-cookbook. Allende herself calls is ‘a memoir of the senses’.

I’m always struck by the fact that Aphrodite was the book immediately published after Paula. (Paula was the heartbreaking story of the death of Allende’s daughter, and is one of the most moving books about the mother-and-daughter relationship that I have read.) Somehow, these two non-fiction books exist as a continuum, reminding me that a passionate life is one that embraces all of the senses, and weathers all of life’s emotional storms.

I adore Aphrodite. I urge you to throw away all of your diet books and indulge in Allende’s joyous celebration of food and of life, even if only for a little while. You might find that more than a passion for food is reignited within you…

What books – or foods – delight your senses? Feel free to share your recommendations in the comments section below…

About Our Reading Space Contributor

Carolyn Leslie Feb 13Carolyn Leslie is an IPEd-accredited editor, a writer, an award-winning book reviewer and a business chick, as well as Mama to two little boys. Carolyn loves books, blogs, op shops, gardening, mucking around in the kitchen and dancing crazily with her kids (and sometimes even with her husband). She dreams of someday having a quiet and (totally) uninterrupted read…

You can follow her on twitter @carolynleslie. Or if email is your thing, drop her a line sometime at carolyn@carolynleslie.com.au


2 Responses to “Celebrating the Senses”
  1. Renée says:

    Juicy, ripe summer fruits give joyous bursts of life’s abundance; they delight my senses, all of them. Books delight my senses! Cook books, of course, travel books, juicy memoirs. Recently I was sent a gift by a Facebook friend I have never met in person: Tea with the Bennets of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, by Margaret Vaughan. The photos, illustrations and recipes provide an indulgent feast for the eyes and the imagination.

    • Carolyn Leslie says:

      In Australia (where I am…), cherries are becoming available, mangoes are arriving. Watermelon is coming into its natural season. Its a beautiful time of the year to be delighting in taste, food, and sensuality.

      I must check out the Margaret Vaughan book – thanks for the recommendation, Renée!