Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 4, 2011

Sensational Snippets: Sustenance (2010), by Simone Lazaroo

Sustenance is a perfectly named novel.   I have tagged is as a ‘Foodie’ book, because anyone interested in food and cooking will love it, but behind the luscious descriptions of Balinese cuisine that scent the pages,  it’s a very thought-provoking book.  Because in this tale, food is more than sustenance for the body, it is also consolation for the soul – and Lazaroo’s tale has ‘bite’ in more ways than one!

Set in the Hotel Elsewhere in Bali, playground of Australians for decades, Sustenance ought to be compulsory reading for blithe travellers to holiday resorts in other cultures.

Here’s a sample:  Perpetua, considering a relationship with Rex, who might or might not be considering a relationship with her, is the cook catering to everyone’s needs…

Perpetua peeled, pounded and blended the spices for her curry keluak, adding a bulb of lemongrass and a pinch of rock sugar and salt.  As she stir-fried the golden paste until it darkened, she imagined all the ingredients fortifying and satisfying her guests, gently warming their stomachs, relaxing them.  She thought about Rex Broadfoot, her parents, the honeymooning and anniversary guests; all the unpredictable appetites that drew couples together and forced them apart,  She tasted the paste: she could still be amazed by the way in which the combination of spices with other ingredients became more than their components after cooking.  How amazing were recipes and the human tongue.

Just as Perpetua wondered if cooking had become a substitute for sex, Clarissa Phillips came into the kitchen to ask her for a pot of tea.  It took Perpetua just a few seconds to work out where she smelled her scent before.  In the spa? In the aromatic bath oils distributed to each guest’s suite? No.  The Australian woman’s perfume was much more expensive and complicated than that.

Especially on the hands of Rex Broadfoot. (p95)

My review is coming soon.

Author: Simone Lazaroo
Title: Sustenance
Publisher: UWAP (University of Western Australia Publishing)
ISBN: 9781742580715
Source: Review copy courtesy of UWAP

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