15 December 2021

Survival into the next . . .

Posted by the Cake Shop

In between icing Christmas cakes (last orders TODAY) and jarring jams, we’ve been putting together a Cake Shop Book Box for you to enjoy in 2022. It will include our Summer and Winter Recipe Pamphlets, an oolong tea that’s been on our menu for 14 years, and three of our favourite books, Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake and The Seaweed Collector’s Handbook by Miek Zwamborn paint detailed and moving portraits of organisms that are fundamental to our nourishment, and the nourishment of our planet as a whole. 

Terry says:

Every hippie punk squat in the 80s had a copy of a book called Survival Into the 21st Century – Planetary Healers Manual. It contained recipes for everything: self-built showers, protein rich foods, gardening techniques. It belonged to a genre that I would best describe as ‘creative information’, a joyful combination of science and prose that challenged us to change the way we lived.

The three books that we’ve selected for our book box are part of the same tradition –companion pieces to guide us into the 22nd century, if you like. Fungi, moss and seaweed are some of our oldest friends, ancient nurturers that keep the earth healthy and connected. They’ve been with us throughout our entire journey as a species, shaping the human mind and culture, and they’re going to be integral to our future.

In gentle prose, the authors describe how the biology of these lifeforms gives rise to their myriad abilities and uses. Moss’s longevity and capacity to return to life is awe-inspiring; fungi not only act as a network of communication between plants, but also have the ability to digest plastics and explosives; seaweed provides a living architecture, a mobile foundation for marine ecosystems. If we end up in some Mad Max-style future, this information is going to be far more essential than car repair. Less petroleum, more mycelium.

These are perfect books to put in your battered rucksack and take on a ramble. Have a forage, stop at a pub to read a chapter over lunch, and tune in to the wonder of the things that are living between and around us. The concept of the entangled life is very punk rock, in a nerdy way – it’s important to remember how many punks were also nerds – and it’s even more important to be able to walk out and pay attention to what is there, precarious but magical, right at our feet.

If you can’t wait for next year to order a Book Box or three for you or your mates, there are lots more to choose from – but go quick if you’re planning a Christmas present, the last order date for UK shipping is TODAY. And you can already pick up a copy of the new pamphlet. Like its Summer sibling, the Winter edition features a selection of our favourite recipes based on seasonal ingredients, with illustrations by the fabulous Francène Thompson. If you’re curious (and in reach of Bloomsbury), why not drop into our Late Shopping Evening TONIGHT and check out a copy over a glass of mulled quince cider?

Books mentioned in this blog post