Small Fires: Rebecca May Johnson


Rebecca May Johnson marshals social criticism, memoir and reflections on literature and film to explore what might be gained from taking the kitchen seriously. What does it mean to experience pleasure and freedom in a domestic space that for many women has been a trap? How might a recipe text provide scope for disobedience, and for finding a voice? Could the ties of the apron strings be liberating as well as constricting? In chapters of lively intellectual enquiry, Johnson brings theory and art into everyday life, and into the kitchen. Evading binaries between abstract intellect and bodily pleasure, domesticity and politics, she awakens us to the richness of cooking as a way of experiencing the self and the world.

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SKU: 9781911590491 Category: Tags: ,



“An intense, thought-provoking enquiry into the very nature of cooking.”  — Nigella Lawson

“One of the most original food books I’ve ever read, at once intelligent and sensuous, witty, provoking and truly delicious.”  — Olivia Laing

A bracingly original, revelatory debut that explores cooking and the kitchen as sources of pleasure, constraint and revolution, by a rising star in food writing

This joyful, revelatory work of memory and meditation both complicates and electrifies life in the kitchen.

Why do we cook? Is it just to feed ourselves and others? Or is there something more revolutionary going on?

In Small Fires, Rebecca May Johnson reinvents cooking — that simple act of rolling up our sleeves, wielding a knife, spattering red hot sauce on our books — as a way of experiencing ourselves and the world. Cooking is thinking: about the liberating constraint of tying apron strings; the transformative dynamics of shared meals; the meaning of appetite and bodily pleasure; the wild subversiveness of the recipe, beyond words or control.

Small Fires shows us the radical potential of the thing we do every day: the power of small fires burning everywhere.

The paperback edition includes a new afterword and recipes for Ten-Minute Tomatoes and Cream Pasta, Meatballs with Tomato and Tarragon Cream Sauce, plus other ideas for tomato and cream combinations and platings inspired by a visit to the archive of groundbreaking English food writer Elizabeth David.

Additional information

Weight 0.369 kg
Dimensions 19.8 × 12.9 × 1.8 cm










392.37 (edition:23)


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