Thanks - or rather no thanks - to Covid I’ve spent more time cooking from cookbooks this year than any other I can remember. And actually cooking from a book really separates the wheat from the chaff. Or the the sheep from the goats or whatever.
You might think the last thing you need is another list of this year’s cookery books. but indulge me in this slightly different take - who would you give them to and why would you find them useful.
I intended to write this post about a month ago when most normal people do their Christmas shopping but hey, it’s suddenly December 22nd and only two shopping days to Christmas. There are however those who leave their shopping until the VERY last minute (I did most of mine at the weekend) and for you this guide may solve all your Christmas present dilemmas in one go.
How often do you find a recipe book that offers a genuinely original selection of recipes inspired by a cooking tradition you’re not even aware of? For those whose shelves are bulging with Italian and middle-eastern cookbooks, Mamushka, by the talented young chef and food stylist Olia Hercules, offers a window into a different culinary world.
Most advice on cooking at uni is directed at freshers but the first few months at university is almost certainly the least likely time you’re going to be in the kitchen. You may well be in hall or a block of student flats that have very few facilities, certainly not for making anything ambitious.
It’s a sign of just how good Sud de France is that it managed to pick up two major prizes last year (an Andre Simon and Fortnum & Mason award) without a single colour photo* or its author, well known and respected though she is in foodie circles, currently being on TV.
A guest post from award-winning wine writer Jamie Goode who gives his own personal take on Jon Bonné's The New California Wine and the issues it raises.
Having eaten Jane Baxter’s food on a number of occasions I was really looking forward to the publication of Leon Fast Vegetarian, the book she’s just written with Leon founder Henry Dimbleby, one of a series of books that has been published by the Leon chain.
I can’t tell you how excited I was about A Change of Appetite. To the extent that, impatient with the review copy not having arrived I dragged myself on a fruitless visit to Waitrose to buy it then drove down to Bristol City centre. On a Saturday afternoon. (Locals will know this how insane this is.)
There have been the predictable howls of outrage over Jamie Oliver’s new book Save with Jamie. How dare a multi-millionaire, with no concept of what it’s like to go hungry, tell the poorest in society how to eat?
Good to see that Susy Atkins excellent 'How to make your own drinks' has been reissued in paperback - maybe even more of the moment now than it was two years ago.
It’s a measure of how frantic we are to lose weight that Dr Michael Mosley’s diet book The Fast Diet shot straight to number 1 on Amazon yesterday. But is it worth buying?
Two ‘grandes dames’ of the food writing world, Claudia Roden and Paula Wolfert, have new books out - The Food of Spain (Roden’s first book for five years) and The Food of Morocco. So which should you buy?
I’ve been meaning for a while to review cookbooks in pairs which makes sense unless you’re a total obsessive like me. Most people compare a couple of recently published books and decide which to buy instead of buying them both. This series may help you to make up your mind.
The surprise publishing hit among food books last year was not the record selling Jamie’s 30-minute meals or even the new Nigella but an unillustrated book called The Flavour Thesaurus by an unknown author, Niki Segnit. The book catalogues nearly 1000 flavour combinations which are described in an endearingly quirky way. It’s erudite, original and funny
I remember going up to Lincolnshire write a piece on The Ginger Pig back in the early 90s well before artisan food producers were in vogue. It was a small farm turning out some excellent pork from the strangest pigs I’d ever seen, wiry ginger-haired Tamworths.
The latest orthodoxy about bookselling in these straitened times must be that a book has to be big to sell well. Hence the 492 pages devoted to Nigella’s latest opus Kitchen which weighs in at 1890g or 4lb 2 oz. (Out of curiosity I checked).
Leafing through Ryn and Cordie’s new book I realised how untypical it was. You get the impression most wine books - even ones about food and wine matching - are written for middle-aged men. The few for women tend to be of the fluffy Chicklit variety with cartoons indicating that wine isn’t really a subject they need overly bother their pretty heads with.
It’s almost 20 years ago now since Josh Wesson wrote his first book on food and wine pairing - the ground-breaking Red Wine with Fish: the new art of Matching Wine with Food which he co-authored with David Rosengarten. He then went on to set up the attractive and innovative wine store Best Cellars which groups wines by style
You’d think, wouldn’t you, that most chefs would be pretty good at food and wine matching, not least French chefs. Well, you’d be wrong! I’m constantly shocked by the number of chefs who haven’t the faintest idea what wine goes best with their recipes or indeed, who drink wine at all. (Some of them possibly because they’ve, er hem, enjoyed it a bit too much in the past . . . )