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October 7, 2015

And so it came to pass that Chatto & Windus – the publisher of H.G. Wells, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust and Samuel Beckett – has secured the global English rights to my ramblings about food, memory, caring for a parent with dementia, and the financial crisis. It did so, in a competitive field, with a passion and enthusiasm which took my breath away and made me believe that, perhaps in time, I might grow into a writer.


The Magic Bay Leaf – a title which might mean something to regular followers – is not a cookbook, although it contains recipes. It is not a memoir, although it contains personal history. It is not an essay on the financial crisis, although it reflects on it. It is the story of my tempestuous love affair with Greece, with Mum, with Politics, with Food and how they weave into each other.

My editor Parisa Ebrahimi at C&W and my agent Rachel Mills at PFD have been the most doting literary parents and have introduced me to the Penguin/Random House family with affection and care. As for my culinary Fairy Godmother, the resplendent Nigella Lawson, who saw in me what I couldn’t see in myself… Words shall never be sufficient to express my love and gratitude; but maybe the many, many meals we will continue to share will be more eloquent.

All that remains is the small matter of organising a suitcase full of garbled notes and cryptic recipes, and a head full of aching memories and filial love, into the story they demand to be.

Thank you for all the support



Here is the full announcement on The Bookseller.

Chatto & Windus has bought a “portrait of Greece as seen from the kitchen table” by Guardian and New Statesman writer, actor and cook, Alex Andreou.

Editor Parisa Ebrahimi acquired world English rights to The Magic Bay Leaf from Rachel Mills at PFD.

The Magic Bay Leaf is described as “blending memoir, food and travel writing to reveal the hidden art of real Greek food”.

“It’s also the story of a son returning home to Mykonos to look after, and cook for, his mother as she suffers from Alzheimer’s related dementia,” said Chatto. “In sumptuous prose, as enlightening as it is elegant, and featuring a selection of bold, adventurous recipes, this is the taste of Greece as a taste of home – reminding us of the importance of food – to a country, and family, in crisis.”

Ebrahimi said: “We are overjoyed to bring Alex to Chatto – it’s about time someone lifted the lid on Greek cuisine and he is the perfect person to do it. This is the story of real Greek food told through the prism of home and homeland, written out of passion and necessity, in prose that is as delectable as the food it describes. This is food writing meets memoir at its sparkling, sumptuous best.”

Andreou said: “Food is memory. It carries the imprint of personal and national history. Real Greek food exists in painfully beautiful, primary colours: born in kitchens with two gas rings and no gadgets, with dull knives, threadbare cloths and superstitious rituals. It embodies the hospitality and hardship of an entire people. This is the story I want to share with you: of a woman losing pieces of her identity, in the midst of a country struggling to rediscover its own, of chopped parsley and generational shifts, of prickly pear and migration, of bay leaves and caring for a parent with dementia. A memoir of life and a manual of love, for those who never knew and those who forgot.”

The Magic Bay Leaf will be published in 2017.


27 Comments leave one →
  1. Elle Em permalink
    October 7, 2015 8:37 am

    Congratulations! That sounds wonderful. On my list of books which must be read.

  2. battlefield3vet permalink
    October 7, 2015 8:51 am

    Congratulations Alex 

  3. October 7, 2015 9:07 am

    sounds fab. i particularly like “born in kitchens with two gas rings and no gadgets, with dull knives”. i remember my Albanian grandmother explaining that she didn’t dice things small because when she’d grown up cooking, they didn’t have cutting boards, they just cut in their hands. 🙂

    • October 7, 2015 12:41 pm

      My aunt still does that. Criss-crosses the onion in her hand with a knife, then chops it directly over the pot.

      • Monique van der Kist permalink
        October 7, 2015 5:33 pm

        I do it, even though I’ve all the modern equipment. Must say I never really realized I took the habit from my Greek mother in law. Also holding fresh bread against my chest to cut lovely thick slices, nothing beats that

  4. October 7, 2015 9:23 am


  5. October 7, 2015 9:54 am

    Congratulations! Looking forward to it.

  6. October 7, 2015 10:20 am

    Congratulations! I shall be waiting for your book to come out.what else can I say but CONGRATULATIONS!!! again xx

  7. Barbara Kenyon permalink
    October 7, 2015 10:35 am

    Really looking forward to this book. Love his style, and I’ve lived in Greece for 35 years.

    Date: Wed, 7 Oct 2015 08:33:29 +0000 To:

  8. Spencer permalink
    October 7, 2015 10:49 am

    congratulations i will look forward to it, and Nigella back mixing with good company where she belongs!, you must give us a reminder when it is available.

  9. lifescaper permalink
    October 7, 2015 11:23 am

    Well done..I look forward to reading more of you

  10. October 7, 2015 11:58 am

    Reblogged this on perfectlyfadeddelusions.

  11. October 7, 2015 12:39 pm

    Hi! I’m back in Greece taking care of my mom also. How bittersweet it all is. The sun, the rain. I laugh, I cry, and then I laugh again! Oh, but how blessed I am to be living in this land that keeps breaking my heart, over and over again! Can’t wait to read this! Congratulations!

  12. julia permalink
    October 7, 2015 12:46 pm

    Congratulations on the book deal – you are a really gifted writer 🙂

  13. Virginia permalink
    October 7, 2015 3:08 pm

    Congratulations! I have shared your words with friends many times. My husband enjoys your politics, I welcome your words about your dear Mother. We will certainly look for your book! Thank You

  14. Sue permalink
    October 7, 2015 3:14 pm

    Delighted for you, Alex, and thoroughly well-deserved!

  15. Don Phillips permalink
    October 7, 2015 3:48 pm

    Great news. Deserved.

  16. Don permalink
    October 7, 2015 4:03 pm

    Are they converting them to ebooks? I love to cook with my iPad beside me.

  17. Cathy permalink
    October 7, 2015 5:31 pm

    Congratulations, and well deserved. Delighted for your success. It will be wonderful to have a whole volume to read and savour.

  18. October 7, 2015 9:17 pm

    I keep saying it, once a rock star, always a rock star. I am proud of you and so happy to be considered a friend and fellow lover of Greece, even if my “roots” are ever so limited. Congratulations.

  19. John permalink
    October 10, 2015 5:31 am

    Is it possible to get on a reminder list when it’s finally published?

    • October 10, 2015 7:28 am

      You could subscribe to this blog. I’m bound to say something. Like BUY MY BOOK. 🙂

  20. October 11, 2015 11:27 am

    I shall join the ranks of those holding their breath in anticipation!

  21. February 1, 2016 2:13 pm

    Looking forward to getting my copy.


  1. AN ANNOUNCEMENT | sturdyblog | sdbast

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