The Monocle Minute

The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 23 December 2017

Food

Eat your vegetables

In her vibrant new vegetarian cookbook, London chef Anna Jones divides the year into six seasons – in terms of produce, she says it’s more accurate than four.

As the year-end rolls round and an excess of roast dinners turns to resolutions for a healthier 2018, you’d do well to nab a copy of British author and chef Anna Jones’ third and latest cookbook. The Modern Cook’s Year (published by 4th Estate) is a dense and delightful collection of 250 recipes – veg-heavy, seasonally done but apt for the hungry as well as the health-conscious – that’s artfully shot by former Monocle staffer Ana Cuba. Unlike many titles of this girth (it runs to well over 450 sumptuously styled pages), Jones’ work isn’t foreboding or forbidding but is instead a lively, luscious and celebratory steer on anything from sprucing up a summer salad to flavour-mapping fritters or concocting curry pastes. We’re of no doubt that your dinner guests will thank you.

Arts

Photo finish

A London print fair is the perfect place to find Christmas gifts at the eleventh hour.

In need of some last-minute gifts in London? Fear not: the visual arts journal (and online prints shop) They Made This is taking up some space inside Protein Studios in Shoreditch, a red-brick co-working-cum-events space for a print-selling fair that lasts only until today. There’ll be geometric, colourful prints by Camille Walala as well as scribble-like illustrations by Dutchman Jordy van den Nieuwendijk, graphic collages by Jimmy Turrell and evocative landscape photography by Mark Leary. The artwork on show is top-notch and varied – and, in case you were wondering, yes, there is a tombola too.

Rome

Image: Getty Images

Dead wood

The Italian capital – and its mayor – are under fire for the city’s lacklustre Christmas tree that some have compared to a toilet brush.

With Christmas just around the corner, cities around the world are now littered with decorated trees twinkling with fairy lights. One we could do without, however, is Rome’s Christmas tree, which has been nicknamed Spelacchio (“mangy”) for its sad appearance. Many have even compared the austerity-tree erected in Piazza Venezia to a toilet brush. It doesn’t reflect well on the capital’s mayor Virginia Raggi and her populist Five Star Movement, which has struggled since coming into power in 2016. It also hasn’t helped Rome’s rivalry with Milan, a city that boasts a lavish Swarovski tree this year. Here’s hoping that Christmas will be merrier than Rome’s scrawny fir.

Culture

Image: Alamy

Pulp fiction?

Print is still going strong but a cheeky experiment suggests that publishers are playing it too safe.

Despite the rise of tablets and e-readers, the continuing success of bookshops around the world has proved that there will always be an audience dedicated to print. But what of the books already sitting on shop shelves? French writer Serge Volle thinks that contemporary publishing favours easily digestible “throwaway” books. To prove this, Volle sent an excerpt from compatriot and Noble Prize-winning author Claude Simon’s novel The Palace to 19 prospective publishers: a dozen sent outright rejections; seven didn’t respond. If a literary bastion like Simon can’t get published today, what does it say of the state of modern books? While there’s always a place for mass-marketable fiction, the experiment is a potent reminder that publishers should also be willing to take a gamble on an avant-garde title now and again.

From Monocle 24

Image: Dick Thomas Johnson

Festive films

The Monocle Arts Review

Film critics Jason Solomons and Anna Smith join Ben Rylan in the studio to discuss the films out this December and some of their festive favourites.

From Monocle Films

Christmas shopping in Helsinki

We head to Santa's homeland to stock up on some Christmas stocking fillers, from fashion and homeware to books and toys.

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