Food, family, friends and fun often end up at the same table together, whether it’s in sharing a homey pot of spaghetti and meatballs, a tray of knockout appetizers that promises an even more spectacular meal to come, or an intimate celebration of a special anniversary or other event. The key is that good food and drink, lovingly prepared and served, are the body and soul-satisfying threads that knit us together. Join me as we look at three very different books all covering the same subject: The celebration table.

Everyone Can Cook for Celebrations; Seasonal Recipes for Festive Occasions
By Eric Akis
Published by Whitecap Books 2009, softcover, $24.95; 261 pages

This is Akis’ fifth book and carries through on the appealing and easily accessible dishes that have made his previous books so popular. Akis, a trained chef and food writer for the Victoria Times Colonist and other CanWest newspapers, knows that the average cook wants to create dishes that are relatively easy to prepare with ingredients that are easy to find and yet ones delicious and impressive enough for even the most finicky table mates.

He goes the extra mile, too, in adding helpful hints on what can be prepared ahead or substituting ingredients that might be more popular with your crowd. The book is arranged seasonally, beginning with winter gatherings and ending with the year-end holidays in which we now find ourselves.

In between, he offers recipes and menus for romantic dinners, spring celebrations and those long and lazy summer weekends that we always hope will never end. But, alas, they do and in this season of short days, we turn inward to share a tipple, defy the darkness with blazing light displays and prepare tables laden with the rich harvest of just-past seasons. (more…)