All Hail the Lemon Compendium; A MUST-Have Book for Every Household!

Featured image; Yasemen Kaner-White at her book launch at Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centre, London.

Just after I published this post, and was about to (twitter) tag the author (Yasemen Kaner-Whiteof the book I am about to tell you all about, I wanted to call her personally and tell her to send a signed copy of the book to Nigella Lawson. So imagine how surprised I was when I saw this on Twitter.

Thrilled another lemon lover, herself, has featured one of my recipes

Isn’t that amazing? Perhaps the Gods of Culinary read my mind and sent a laser ray over to Nigella and Yasemen at the same time! How very thrilling it is to feature two beautiful women on this post, ha? Anyway, so here’s what happened. 

About 2 years ago, my friend Yasemen Kaner-White started spreading the word about her next project; a book about lemons. Most of us thought she was mad. Like, seriously?! With her honey-sweet voice and girly-chic fashion sense, we expected her to say “I’m writing a book about fashion!” Or something chick-litty.

Who would want to buy a book about lemons? Will it sell? And most of all, how do you write a book centred on a single fruit (and a rather common fruit at that!), that most people take for granted? I for one, seriously thought Miss Pretty Polly was wasting her time. You see, Yasemen was also a Socialite at the time when I was writing my Diary of an It Boy column, doing fashion & showbiz presenting & commentating, and living a life of endless soirées!

Yasemen and I at "Socialite Evenings by Emmanuel Ray,"  January 2010, which I hosted at (the now closed) St. Stephen'd Club, the former town residence of Lord Glenconner.
Yasemen and I at “Socialite Evenings by Emmanuel Ray,” January 2010, which I hosted at (the now closed) St. Stephen’d Club, the former town residence of Lord Glenconner.

Yasemen was also presenting at events, and even hosted her own social gatherings and networking events titled Parmuto Parties, in Chelsea, for media professionals and the creative crowd in general. She is half Cypriot, and was also managing some form of cultural exchange programme between Cyprus and London, which I didn’t quite get my head around as it sounded pretty boring. So I pretend to be interested, nodded my head and smiled every time she talked to me about it.

When The Evil Queen Recessionista sunk her sharp talons into the British economy, we all felt the pinch… or dig, rather! The red velvet curtains that shaded our salons and soirées were stripped away, and the Evil Queen spread out her never ending dark cloak, covering the creative industries in a state of doom and gloom.. like some death eater off Harry Potter! Budgets were being cut left, right and centre, sponsorship deals were falling through our manicured hands, and finally, we all had to act fast and think outside the box, in order to hold on to our incomes for dear life.

Being the Eternal Optimist, I threw some Pearls of Wisdom Yasemen’s way. “Stop worrying your pretty little head about how you are going to cope. Use your looks and charm instead, flirt your way through both life and career. Get a sugar daddy!” and so on, which I felt was the kind of advice any self-respecting woman would take to. Unfortunately, Yasemen decided to that horrible thing they call “The High Road.” No wonder I didn’t see her for ages! She seemed to have disappeared down that high road.. and finally found her way back to London’s glittering social scene, armed with The Book! 

I next saw her at a charity fund raiser I attended in Mayfair. The book was all she could talk about. Seeing how excited she was about the book, I decided to look into it. She presented me a signed copy in person, and when I had Lemon Compendium placed in my hands and flicked through its pages, I realised that Lemon has been a part of my life since childhood.  

In Sri Lanka, we would often have Lemon Juice sweetened with sugar, during the hot summer months. South Asian woman traditionally squeezed Lemon onto a rustic black stone (I think it was concrete), and rubbed a piece of sandalwood onto it, then made a paste and used it as a face mask. The paste can also be applied to acne spots. Lemon was used a lot in cooking, of course. Those who attended funerals would apply lemon on their hands, faces and even head. If one gets really drunk, half a lemon or lime can be rubbed onto one’s scalp. Apparently it gets into one’s blood stream, and the acid in lemon cuts combats the after effects of alcohol. Lemon and limes are also used in traditional South Asian hair treatments.        

Lemon Compendium; a book for all seasons!
Lemon Compendium; a book for all seasons!

Oh M Geeeee!!!! Yasemen Kaner-White was now an Authoress! I wish people used terms like that nowadays. Sounds quit Vintage, doesn’t it? Here was a woman on a mission. Yasemen promoted her book in every way possible. Telling friends, sharing links on social media and taking every opportunity to publicise this wonderful book, which I think (and I am sure those of you who already have the book, or will end up buying one will agree) every house hold should have a copy of Lemon Compendium.

Lemon Compendium was launched at Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centre, London. The day after the launch Yasemen set up a Lemon Compendium display in The Prince’s Trust’s Tomorrow Store. She has been featured in Notting Hill’s Books for Cooks, twice, and has also appeared at the Godalming Food Festival, Surrey. Her dream of doing a book signing at Waterstone’s finally came true as well, and I am pleased that several people purchased signed copies and friends that I have spoken to have also gone on to purchase the book online.

In the age of Kindles and Web-mania, I think it is vital to support authors. I don’t think solid paperbacks and hardbacks will ever go out of fashion, and every book lover out there knows that nothing beats the feeling of holding a good brand new book in one’s hands. And I am sure this book will become a much loved Lemon Bible for foodies!

Lemon Compendium is roughly an A4 size (slightly larger in width) coffee table book in hard back. Packed with 275 thick glossy pages, and palate-tickling photographs, this is the kind of book one would read at leisure, when at home. Once I opened the book and heard its spine crack, I did what I always do. I fanned the pages and inhaled the wonderful scent of fresh, good quality paper. Food awakens the senses, so it was only appropriate!

Past the foreword by 2 starred Michelin chef Mauro Colagreco, and an introduction to Lemon and Citrus varieties and variations,Yasemen takes us on an incredibly interesting journey. From Lemons in art & culture to Lemon Festivals around the World, from DYI tips at home for which you can use Lemons for (who knew! Some interesting electrical stuff is mentioned here too), to Lemon’s importance in history, we learn a lot about this cheap yet versatile and important fruit.

There are many snappy hints, tips and tricks to be had with lemon. Lemon’s uses in Lifestyle and Health & Beauty, make for some interesting reading. Loads of drink recipes, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are followed by several mouth-watering recipes for savoury recipes and puddings. Yasemen also shares with us her Mum’s secret recipe. Well, not a secret anymore, and I wonder if she tricked her Mum into giving it to her!

The last chapter is mind boggling! Titled Global Lemony Grub, Yasemen has sourced recipes that Lemon is a vital part of, from almost every country and region one can imagine. This A to Z recipe mania starts with Afghanistan and ends with Zimbabwe. She has even managed to get the traditional Sri Lankan recipe for Lemon & Coconut, Cashew Rice. A dish full of complex flavours, I was instantly transported to the hills of Kandy, where we enjoyed this dish with friends, following a visit to the Temple of the Tooth Relic.     

Lemon Compendium is packed with deliciously useful information!
Lemon Compendium is packed with deliciously useful information!

I can go on and on about Lemon Compendium. I have decided to start trying out the recipes. I even used Lemons while baking a large fillet of salmon, for a dinner party I hosted at my place. Yasemen was impressed! 

Apart from being a must-have for every household, Lemon Compendium would also make a wonderful Christmas / New Year gift. Purely because it is timeless. Unlike the majority of novels, how-to and self-help books, which may become outdated when societal norms, behavioural patterns and several other factors in our lives are changing with the rapid progress of time, food recipes seldom go out of fashion. And the remedies and DIY tasks that Lemon is used for are timeless too. 

This is not the kind of book you would read, digest (pun intended!) and give away to someone else. It is the kind of book that you MUST keep at home. Do NOT lend it to anyone else. If a friend asks for it, they can buy a copy! Lemon Compendium is something one would want to look after carefully, make maximum use of its advice, hints, tips and recipes, and then pass it on to the next  generation.

So go ahead, Click Here and buy a copy. I hear that Royal Mail can deliver Xmas gifts if posted before 18th December, so one can receive one’s gift just in time for Christmas. But even if you have already got your presents, I would still urge to get a copy of this amazing book. I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates good food and drink, health and beauty remedies, and some rather unusual (almost eccentric) uses for the Lemon, in DIY tasks! It really is a book for all seasons

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