I'vebeen tagged by Wendy, gorgeous Wendy, from A Wee Bit of Cooking for the Seven Random Things Meme. As I’ve already revealed some things last time around (including a love of dogs we share), I’m going to keep this one slightly more focused on food.
And books. After years of selling and hoarding them, here are seven not quite so randomly selected cookbooks that have made a huge impact on me.
1. Colin Spencer's Vegetable Book by (rather obviously) Colin Spencer
How I love this unpretentious little book.
Spencer makes use of ancient and medieval sources, as well as looking to more 'recent' literature from the likes of Hannah Glasse and Mrs Beeton to provide nutritional insights, gardening tips and ultimately manages to write a book that is at the same time both compelling and utterly, utterly delicious.
2. Plenty: Digressions on Food by Gay Bilson
A multi award-winning memoir about a life lived with food. It’s a complicated and enviably well-crafted book, written with great, great skill. A restrained, playful use of language is coupled with thoughtful and provocative views of not just food itself, but the rituals we humans weave around these things.
Beautiful seems like a much-abused word, but in this case, used in its simplest and most subtle form, it is an apt description.
3. The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander
What can I say? It’s a bible. Chapters cover alphabetically (almost) every ingredient imaginable, recipes actually work and has an incredibly useful ‘goes with’ column for imaginative cooks. Who’d have thought that kiwifruit go with kirsch? (Surprisingly, they do…)
4. The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater
Nigel, Nigel, Nigel.
Pretty much what everyone who blogs is attempting to do, this diary of a year in Nigel’s kitchen is breathtakingly seductive. Evocative, seasonal light floods the photographs in these pages allowing produce, rather than the cook, to be the star. No-one writes about home-cooked food so damn well.
Lots of meat to wade through yes, but there are real gems to be found in these pages. Much has been written about this book and for good reason - it's inspirational from beginning to end. Chapter titles like Sweet Cloves and Liquid Gold, an exploration of garlic, olives and olive oil, evoke more than just a sense of place. Henry’s introductions in fact hide a wealth of glorious recipe ideas. A book to take from the kitchen to the bedside table and back again.
6. Local Flavors by Deborah Madison
Enough to make a southern hemisphere-based girl green with envy of the bounty of a U.S. farmer’s market. A seasonally-based book, brilliant from beginning to end, this is by far my favourite of Madison’s books. She really, really knows how to cook vegetables.
7. Good Tempered Food: Recipes to love, leave and linger over by Tamasin Day-Lewis
A treatise on Good Cooking. With recipes. Love everything about it, from the photography to the layout, the typesetting and most importantly, the words. Tamasin is a little bit bossy, but don't let that put you off. Hers is a well-developed palate and with impressive literary connections (brother is actor Daniel, father Cecil was poet laureate and a one-time boyfriend was Martin Amis) it is little wonder that she writes so compellingly.
Not going to tag anyone in particular, however, if you feel the urge, consider yourself tagged and join in. Would love to know what books have influenced others, kitchen- or otherwise…