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Certainly his father's supposed suicide casts a constant pall. His self doubt is emphasised — although it is hard at time to match this with the larger than life man on our screens. He writes of his early sexual exploits with an innocent frankness, but once he met the right woman, in the form of Jill, his career spiralled ever upwards. She does seem to be the loser in all this — but then we can never be privy to the inner workings of a marriage and the author understandably is not overly forthcoming in what went wrong.
He never disses her, but one suspects that in his effusiveness for how gloriously happy he is with his Aussie Sass would not be music to Jill's ears — but who knows? Reading on-line, it seems Jill was initially very incensed about the new woman in her man's life. Hopefully she has now moved on to a similar state of ecstasy to his as well. The added photographs are charming as well as revelatory. With so many years behind him, he has so many stories — they all being eminently readable.
Let's just hope the story itself doesn't end for some time yet. My beautiful DLP is doing one of her signature dishes for our evening meal. She weaves magic with a piece of Atlantic salmon. I am salivating at the thought. I doubt if even the great Rick Stein could match what DLP will soon be doing with that piece of fish!
Sep 29, Michelle rated it it was amazing. Micky and I had this on audio as we road tripped around, under our own mackerel skies, in the last eight days. I for his rich passion for literature and the fact he is always carrying a book, as much an important piece of equipment as his kitchen utensils, on his cooking shows and quoting from them - whether it be extracts from a classic Micky and I had this on audio as we road tripped around, under our own mackerel skies, in the last eight days.
He is such a cultural intellect, for which I find him utterly beguiling. His book was narrated by him - winning! It was all done with his masterful ability to weave words and wisdom. I think I may have sparked something. How cool is that?! Jul 17, Dean Goldstein rated it really liked it. As one of my favourite TV chefs, Rick's private life reveals a fair bit about his demeanour in front of the camera and technique whilst on tour. He deals with his own childhood, bipolar father, boarding school and I started reading Under a Mackerel Sky the minute I could after I found out that Rick had written an autobiography.
He deals with his own childhood, bipolar father, boarding school and all, in a gentle and astute way. The section dealing with his father's death which happened whilst he was a street sweeper in London was well crafted and let the reader in just enough to understand how traumatic it really was.
It seems as though Rick went and went until it was too much for him to handle, and whilst it seemed somewhat superficial to skirt over Eric's death early on and then blame it for every time he messed up, it's clear that he only understood the influence that mental illness had on him when he reached the age that his father died at. Stein presents himself throughout the novel as more likeable than he deserves to be considering all the famous outbursts that he references, but comes across as a flawed person who knows it and is trying to make the best of it.
For that, I commend him. I look forward to reading a more in-depth and candid account of his silver screen days when he eventually retires. Hopefully that won't be for a while yet. Mar 30, Moira rated it really liked it. What an interesting life Rick Stein has had! He has certainly not held back when a new adventure presented itself.
He does not gloss over the disasters and poor choices he had. This makes this autobiography all the more realistic and absorbing. For those of us who have loved his TV shows and Chalky this is the icing on the cake or the sauce on the fish dish. Mar 18, Leila rated it it was amazing Shelves: my-challenge-books , autobiographies , humour , non-fiction. I enjoy all Rick Stein's books and videos. He is such a nice ordinary man with a talent for not only quality and interesting recipes but also he has such a natural and likeable way with people.
Apr 23, Steve Higgins rated it it was amazing. The first thing I must say about this book is that after only the first couple of pages, I knew I liked it, I knew I liked Rick's writing style and I knew, instinctively that this was going to be a good read. Rick Stein is famous as a chef and restraunter and his many tv shows about cookery and in particular, cooking fish have made him very popular indeed.
In this book, subtitled a memoir, he talks nostalgically about his early life and links it with food and various dishes from his youth and als The first thing I must say about this book is that after only the first couple of pages, I knew I liked it, I knew I liked Rick's writing style and I knew, instinctively that this was going to be a good read. In this book, subtitled a memoir, he talks nostalgically about his early life and links it with food and various dishes from his youth and also with music, talking about various tracks that he loves and which remind him of his early life.
It is, well particularly the first half of the book, a free talking adventure down memory lane taking in all sorts of places, moods, food, tastes and music as he does so. He paints a nostalgic and warm picture of rural Cornish life which was pretty privileged, his father was a farm owner and pretty well off although sadly he committed suicide when Rick was only Rick tells us about the suicide in short bursts throughout the book in fact at first he doesn't even mention the death was a suicide.
I can imagine it was pretty hard to write to wrote about and maybe Rick himself found some solace as his spoke about his father. Anyway, I found myself liking Rick very much and left the book thinking that Rick thinks pretty much just as I do which is perhaps one of the reasons I liked the book as much as I did.
All in all, a lovely read and one I enjoyed very much. This was one painful read. I first saw Rick Stein on Masterchef Australia few years ago and I loved his humility and attitude towards food and his style of food. So when I came across his memoir I was so excited to read it and connect with him. At the very beginning where he describes his childhood on an English farm I was so intrigued and hopeful.
But very fast I realised, because of the way in which this is narrated it was very hard to make sense of the timelines of his story and the people wh This was one painful read. But very fast I realised, because of the way in which this is narrated it was very hard to make sense of the timelines of his story and the people who were in his life.
The only way I can explain the feeling after reading this book is that uncomfortable giddy feeling of sea sickness; I felt bobbed and thrown about aimlessly. So I gave up on the last 50 or so pages. Jun 08, Marjol Flore rated it it was amazing. Great read, cried over Chalky!
This book is disappointing, but that is not to say it is not enjoyable to read - I just expected more. The first half is quite enjoyable as Rick's formative years as a boy and young man are recounted with a certain honesty and thoughtfulness. The style is good. But about half way through it loses the plot and suffers a structural breakdown. There are chapters with random events spliced together - I suspect a hasty cut and paste job to get it finished. The last part is a commentary on various tv This book is disappointing, but that is not to say it is not enjoyable to read - I just expected more.
The last part is a commentary on various tv programs which is less interesting than the actual programs. I can't help but think this should have been two books - after all, it is a big life. I enjoyed most of Rick Steins TV programmes and have a few of his cookbooks. I looked forward to reading this but found it tedious, the writing was sloppy, the content jumpy, even though an autobiography less is more might have been a better approach. The descriptions were heavy going and the lists of people places, ingredients made me glaze over.
Apr 25, Vivienne rated it really liked it. I really enjoyed this especially having only recently seen Rick Stein in conversation with Richard Glover, live at the State Theatre. The only negative comment would be that sometimes Rick's brutal honesty about himself tells us, or at least me as a big Rick fan, rather more than I would like to know about him, preferring the somewhat sanitised TV image of the man!
I live his frequent references to favourite literature and especially to the music of his youth. It's a real and very human story. May 23, Bookshop rated it really liked it. Maybe it helps as I am a big food lover and have enjoyed his TV shows in the past. However, his description of D.
Thompson and H. Von Holzen made it sound like these two are saviours of Thai and Indonesian cuisines respectively. But him as a person? What an appalling treatment of his wife for 30 yrs! Not even a mention at the end of the book when she has supported him throughout. What a douchebag! Given the blurb on the back of the book says it is a "strikingly honest and moving memoir" I was surprised that he skirted around talking about his affair with Sas while he was still married to Jill.
And some more detail on his relationship with his children would have been good. Jun 21, Stuart Hingston rated it it was amazing. I stumbled onto under the mackerel sky by accident thinking it was a cook book I could give to my wife so I could try some of his TV show dishes. I am so glad I did. Really glad I read it and would definitely recommend. Jan 10, Yvonne Mendy-Harrison rated it it was ok. Could not finish this It was very very poor writing and as if he dictated a stream of not very interesting happenings in his life.
Just proves if you are famous you can get anything printed. Jan 25, Justin Walshaw rated it really liked it. In an epic turn of events, our hero, Mr Stein, seeks to demolish the entire fish population of his past history in a somewhat mad and bloody campaign of terror, whilst wearing a decidedly unbuttoned shirt.
A good read from one of my favourite chefs. Its a shame Rick doesn't cover more on his father or his transition between wives - but its up to him to share what he and others involved are happy to. A good read I would recommend with some nifty recipes. Oct 15, Olivia V rated it really liked it. He may not be the best writer or the best person but I don't give a f, he's my favourite chef. The book is very short so it's not really a problem or difficult to read when it's the words of someone you admire.
I loved this and gave it five our of five. Rick Stein has the most engaging style of writing where it feels that he is writing directly to you. There is also a fantastic sense of enthusiasm that seems to pervade the book. I loved it. Jul 31, Celna rated it really liked it.
Not sure why people are giving this book low stars. I enjoyed it and found it amusing at times. I enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoy watching his shows :. Aug 08, Deb rated it liked it. I listened to the audio book. If I was reading it, I suspect I would not have finished the book. Complex, industrious, middle class chap, with an adventurous streak, sometimes struggles with petty insecurities, past personal traumas and life's little foibles, would like to meet excellent food, wine and beer, to love and be loved, to live and be merry.
Mar 07, Rob Nuzum rated it liked it. Very good honest review of how he got to where he did. Apr 05, Aimee rated it it was ok. He lost me when he revealed he fell in love with someone else Have to say I thought more highly of him before reading this! The beginning is a tad bit too much about sex, then it gets into how he started his businesses. Good interesting read but too much sex.
Eventually, Cornwall called him home. From the entrepreneurial days of his mobile disco, the Purple Tiger; to his first, unlikely nightclub where much of the time was spent breaking up drink-fuelled fights, Rick charts his personal journey in a way that is wry and perceptive; engaging and witty. Rick is a firm supporter of sustainable fishing and farming techniques, which he strives to maintain in Padstow, Cornwall, where he runs an acclaimed restaurant and a seafood cookery school, as well as a delicatessen, patisserie and hotel.
He divides his time between Padstow and Australia, where he opened a restaurant, Rick Stein at Bannisters, in But fishing was a time when the tying of knots in nylon line and the threading of ragworms on hooks involved us with practicalities and I forgot my reserve. He kept his wooden reels in a green canvas bag flecked with fish scales and he always took with him a little wire folding stool with an orange cloth seat which he also used when painting watercolours of the medieval bridge at Wadebridge or the view of the Camel estuary towards Stepper and Pentire Point.
We had a house in Cornwall on Trevose Head and my dad knew a lot of local fishermen, mostly from going to pubs: the Cornish Arms and Farmers Arms in St Merryn and several of the half a dozen or so pubs in Padstow, particularly the London Inn, the Golden Lion and the Caledonian. A strong memory of childhood is sitting in the back of our Jaguar with my sister Henrietta drinking St Austell ginger beer and eating crisps with a little blue paper twist of salt, waiting while my mum and dad had a drink on a dull day.
We were never allowed inside the pub but the smell of beer and tobacco smoke and the sound of good-humoured conversation billowing out as people came and went was tantalising, particularly in the warm summer drizzle, when the dampness of the air seemed to hold in those aromas, infused with the scent of wild fennel from hedges nearby.
Henrietta remembers interminable hours in one boat or another with Bill Cullum fishing for mackerel, garfish and pollack, or with Johnnie Murt hauling lobster pots. Most of the time she would sit and read. Once, alone with my father in a small boat, we narrowly missed being turned over in the surf at Polzeath. In our excitement at catching so many bass we had let our lines become tangled, snagging the propeller and stopping the engine. I remember the panic then, as we drifted towards the breaking waves.
Years later two local boys, Bronco Bate and Arnold Murt, out salmon netting on the Doom Bar drowned because the same thing happened; the atmosphere in Padstow the next morning was as dark as I can recall. The downstairs bedroom next to the kitchen in our house, Polventon, would often be used for storing live lobsters, crab or crayfish which crawled over the floor, bubbling and making cracking noises. I loved the crab meat and quite liked the crayfish, but the lobster was too intense.
Its firm, white, sweet-salty flesh was too strong for a child and the bright yellow mayonnaise too pungent with the olive oil that my mother always used. I can still recall the black, heavy screw stoppers with red rubber seals, and the men sitting with their glasses on the just-filled barley sacks at lunch break during harvest time. Fishing off the rocks we never caught much more than wrasse and pollack. The wrasse were gorgeously coloured; deep red, orange, yellow and sometimes green or golden-hued, but tasted of nothing.
The pollack were always the same colour, a silver belly and brown back and large dark blue eyes. My dad and I would take the fish back to the house where the wrasse were treated with little enthusiasm by my mother. She left them till they were starting to smell, I think to make me feel better about it, then threw them out into the springy cliff grass for the gulls.
The pollack she made into fish cakes, often with mackerel, which were ever-present due to the almost daily boat-fishing trips. One summer we went to stay on the south coast of Cornwall, at Church Cove on the Lizard peninsula with some friends of my parents, the composer Richard Arnell and his wife Colette. They had a daughter, Claudine, whom my brother John admired even more urgently than I did, he being some years older, but I was fascinated by her: she was far and away the most beautiful girl I had ever met, and with the longest legs.
She was like a real-life version of Brigitte Bardot, whom we then thought the ultimate in sexiness. Church Cove s eemed very dishevelled, the thatch on the cottages patchy and full of holes, and a large pile of smelly cattle bedding straw right next to one of the houses.
I may be recalling wrongly, but I think that some of the local boys of my age had no shoes. The holiday house had been the old fish cellars. Below it, at the top of the pebble beach, there was a capstan house for hauling up the pilchard boats, and Henrietta and I would spin round on it while Claudine played cool. My mother had a well stocked cupboard but it baffles me now where Colette could have got the ingredients for that fabulous fish stew.
Not in Cornwall, for sure. The olive oil perhaps from the chemist. There would have been plenty of well-flavoured tomatoes. Maybe the saffron was bought locally too, that would have been available for Cornish saffron cake. I must have been 11 or 12 but I still remember the glorious crunch of cornflakes with full-cream milk, brown sugar and clotted cream for breakfast. My parents, Eric and Dorothy Stein, owned a farm in Oxfordshire, and I was the fourth of five children.
The youngest, Henrietta, was my childhood playmate on the farm and on the beach; we are still incredibly close. John is six years older than me; he was idolised by my mother for his good looks and his brilliance at exams. He is 12 years older than me, and soon after I was born he went to the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.
He had built a model railway at the bottom of the garden and had large model yachts and other grown-up toys which I vandalised with clumsy wonder as most much younger brothers do. My father had a manager — Harry Watson — at the farm, helped by a young woman called Joyce Unwin who had come to work on the farm as a land girl in the Second World War.
My father spent most of the week in London, where he and my mother had a flat in Bloomsbury. My dad ran the family firm — Stein Brothers, whose main business was distilling — with his brother Rolf. By the time I was born it had been taken over by the Distillers Company and, in time, my father became managing director.
Many people thought it was eccentric and experimental in the s and 70s — but today the architecture is much admired and, indeed, the house is now listed. On Sunday nights at the farm in Oxfordshire, my dad made tomato and onion soup. His soup was so clear you could see the pieces of shallot and tomato in it. No wonder I am drawn to simple dishes. My father used to say with some pride at Sunday lunch that everything we were eating had come from the farm.
The pudding, too, would have been ours: in summer, strawberries from the fruit garden near the house and cream from the dairy in Chipping Norton, or a blackcurrant or gooseberry fool. In autumn, an apple charlotte from our apples or a damson tart from the tree by our house. It was a mixture of lard and butter, 5oz of each to a pound of flour, but it had a rich crumbliness.
She never altered it by putting in sugar for puddings, and I have always found that a nice contrast.
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