“Giving someone a copy of your favourite book is like cooking a hearty soup for someone who’s fallen ill. I gift people books in the hopes it will nourish them from the inside out”
Christmas is fast approaching and before I suffocate with the smell of spices and the inevitable mince pie pics, ( i hate mince pies) I thought I’d share a few of my most read foodie books this year. I absolutely love reading and for me its one of the best pleasures in the world.They are like a tiny little universe hidden beneath a sea of black and white. The power of reading is incomparable to any movie you’ll ever see. We can all watch a movie and become entranced with its theatrics but, read the book and you’re mind will bring it to life in a way you cannot control and is completely your own. I love gifting books as its such a personal gesture.Giving someone a copy of your favourite book is like Cooking a hearty soup for someone who’s fallen ill. I gift people books in the hopes it will nourish them from the inside out.
“I’d rather throw my MacBook out of the window before I ever dream of parting from my boxes and boxes of beautiful books…”
I remember the first book I read when I was 3 years old.(move over Steven Hawkins) It was the shortest little chapter book of the three billy goats gruff and from there my love affair with books was born. From working our way up through the adventures of Biff and Chip to the oh so relatable life of Tracy Beaker in the dumping ground, like memories and people, books play a huge role in different parts of our lives.
“…all you have to do is give up anything with any flavour, pledge allegiance to the avocado, chia seed gods and vow to NEVER eat sugar again”
I was so obsessed with Jacqueline Wilson that my friends would make jokes about the size of my book collection, but the way in which those books are written are like crack to a pre-teens.
“Despite my insatiable love for all things literary…I cannot stand cookbooks!”
I remember the craze around the Twilight franchise, the bus would be full of school kids, heads delving deep into these huge chunky novels, living vicariously through the life of Bella Swan. Even now, aside from my family, my books are among most prized possessions. I’d rather throw my MacBook out of the window before I ever dream of parting from my boxes and boxes of beautiful books.I have digressed a little, I apologise. I could talk about books forever.
“My copy was printed in the 50’s so as you can imagine it’s not in the best shape but thinking about how many chefs have flipped its pages with joy and/or frustration makes it that little bit more special.”
Despite my insatiable love for all things literary, I cannot stand cookbooks! Cookbooks used to be heartfelt recipes, made to transport those beloved recipes from their family to your’s, or were a great guide for cooking before the amazing visual guide of youtube. Now walk into any Waterstones or smiths and before you can find a book with great recipes and a wealth of information, you’re bombarded by an onslaught of bloggers, Vloggers and social media personalities marketing their favourite ( not so authentic) recipes when we all know that they probably don’t even use their pristine kitchens at home. Nowhere is sacred and if there’s money to be made, it will be. Then we move onto this clean eating age, where carbs are the devil and in order to look like the perfectly* poised skinny white girl on the cover all you have to do is give up anything with any flavour, pledge allegiance to the avocado, chia seed gods and vow to NEVER eat sugar again. ( eyes rolling into 2018)
“… if you’re a chef who reaches for Ultra-tex when you
fuckup a sauce but don’t understand why or how to fix it then you’ll always encounter problems!”
Even a handful of the country’s most famous chefs seem to churn out cookbook after cookbook, without regard for true quality but with the sole aim to make as much money as possible. I’m talking about you Mr Jamie Oliver, dozens of new books a year, whats next? A three-minute fine dining meal with only 2 ingredients. drop me out bruh!
The books I’m focusing on are for me not only visually stimulating and aesthetically beautiful, but offer a great quality of information that appeals to those anywhere on the spectrum, from the ramen obsessed student to London’s most prestigious Michelin accoladed chefs.
Le répertoire de la cuisine, Louis Saulnier
This was the first foodie book that really caught my attention and probably my favourite.
I was given this book by my very first head chef from his personal collection when I joined the industry at 17 and didn’t understand its importance until now. My copy was printed in the 50’s so as you can imagine it’s not in the best shape but thinking about how many chefs have flipped its pages with joy and/or frustration makes it that little bit more special. Written in 1914 ( bloody hell, literally 103 years ago) by the French Louis Saulnier as a guide to his mentor Auguste Escoffier’ cooking, it’s a classic that holds such a wealth of information despite its age and still manages to be relevant to today’s cooking. There are always new trends that pop up but if you’re a chef who reaches for Ultra-tex when you
fuck up a sauce but don’t know the why or how to fix it then you’ll always encounter problems.
Escoffier revolutionised the professional kitchen and I’d spend hours and hours reading through his book and studying its techniques. As you can imagine there is no colour or pictures, its simple. It explains a dishes technique and it’s up to you to interpret it how you see fit.
For anyone interested in food beyond just eating it I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
The flavour thesaurus, Niki Segnit
Much like the rep de la cuisine, the food thesaurus is a great asset to anyone who really wants to understand food, its pairings and the beautiful flavours you can get by mixing them together.
Sometimes I can feel and the taste flavours I am experiencing but can’t find the words to perfectly articulate exactly what they are.There are a million different smells, flavours and sensations but only a handful of words regularly used to describe them.
The thesaurus explains the base flavour of certain ingredients and gives you perfect pairings.
When developing new dishes I stay away from google or any cookbooks and first write about the elements of the dish and imagine things that would pair with it perfectly, then I may flick through the thesaurus and see what flavours they recommend for that particular ingredient.It saves a lot of trial and error when you’re asked to come up with an original dish with limited time and also offers a deeper understanding as to why certain flavours yield the outcome they do.
Nopi, Yotam Ottolenghi
I’ve been following and admiring Ottolenghi’s work for a few years now and really appreciate the heart he puts into his food.
It’s not just technique and uniformity, its beauty, comfort, love in his recipes.
Nopi, named after one of his famed restaurants tucked away just off regents street is full of the most beautiful, decadent recipes. Each dish is prefaced with a brief explanation of the dishes birth and gives life to the dish before it’s even made.
Head to your local Waterstones where you’ll find my latest book, ” A list of chefs who swear they can cook but really can’t” found down the Petty isle. Spoiler alert, Marco Pierre white’s rice and green pea recipe takes prize position in the first chapter!
(Too soon, sorry)