Today I was contemplating writing a simple post, listing my entire cookbook collection, but then this book just about chose itself today, and so it is the first on my list.
On my way home from work on the train, I was reading the free daily newspaper which I pick up at the train station in the morning. There on the food pages it talked about a chef called Richard Whittington who had inspired other British chefs to cook simple, delicious food, and amongst other journalistic ventures, had written some cookbooks, the best of which was a book called Home Food. Hey ! Hang on a minute, I thought, I have a cookbook called that on my shelves at home..
I treat my cookbooks not just as something to cook a recipe from, but something I absorb almost like an 'informational novel'. I love the story of the food and the setting, and I soak up the information that I gather from the book, and I love seeing what is done with the various ingredients to create a new dish. I remember being disappointed when I bought this book, thinking that it was all about British home food, and in all honesty that book probably sat on the shelves for a good few years before I finally read it. When I did, a good few years ago now, it was an absolute revelation not just British Home cooking (for there is a chapter in there on that too), but proper home cooked food, as it is cooked around the world. What a book ! Without picking up the book, I can tell you that it is the place, where, when I was going through my Japanese phase I was able to find a recipe for Dashi (Japanese stock), it also told me what Char sui is, which I had see written many times in a restaurant, but not eaten, so to see a recipe for it was a revelation. There are so many amazing recipes in there from around the world that it's hard to know where to start, so I'm going to flick the book through at random and give you a couple:
Pg 221 Caipriana and Quinoa (under South America)
Pg 149 Chicken under Bricks and Turkey Saltimbocca (Italy)
Pg 285 Rice and Peas and Jerk Chicken (The West Indies)
Need I say more ?
This is a fantastic informational cookbook. Now that I have more confidence in the kitchen and more food knowledge in general than I did twelve years ago (the book was published in 1999), I would now be prepared to take these recipes and 'tweak' them to add my own touch, whereas before I would look at them with a mixture of interest and awe. So, I look forward to making something out of this one soon.
Worthiness of being on shelf ? A very meaty ('meaty'. d'you get it ?) 9/10
You can still purchase your own copy here:
Unfortunately, the author, Richard Whittington passed away on January 3 2011. Read more about his life here:
Exercise update: 2.5 mile run through the mud in Oaks Park and loved every minute of it.