The Reading List
A few cook books and books about food that continue to guide me in the kitchen.
001: The Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler.
Subtitled “Cooking With Economy and Grace, with no pictures and just a few recipes, this book could change the way you think about being in your own kitchen. No fancy restaurant tricks, no on-trend ingredients, just a down-to-earth yet poetic love of food and cooking.
I’m not usually one for inspirational quotes but this one from Antoine St Exupery crops up and has stayed with me ever since:
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood, and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the immensity of the sea”.
002: Relae: A Book Of Ideas byChristian Puglisi
A beautiful book full of beautiful pictures of beautiful food. But there’s nothing new about that – coffee tables across the Western world must be sagging under the weight of beautiful looking cook books these days.
What sets this book apart is the fact the recipes are almost an afterthought with the main part of the book being given over to a series of essays on the foundations of this remarkable food, the ideas, the philosophy, the influences and, of course, the produce. How many cookery books even bother to talk about such fundamental aspects of eating as texture and flavour. The evolution of dishes from their initial germ of an idea to the final, polished product is carefully broken down and analysed, giving a wonderful insight into the chef’s creative process.
Even though vegetables are given equal billing as ingredients alongside meat and fish, I’m not likely to actually cook any of these things. But that’s not the point. For me it’s far more important to be taught how to think about food and cooking and taste than taught how to replicate something from a food stylist’s photograph, however lovely it may look.
(Not saying I haven’t stolen a few ideas from this book though).
003: Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book
The definitive A – Z of vegetables and what to do with them. Manages to be incredibly readable, witty and warm yet simultaneously erudite and encyclopaedic. Full of fascinating facts, historical context and personal anecdotes. No pictures (save for a few line drawings) and recipes that are descriptive and too the point. An ideal companion for a weekly organic veg box.