There’s a meme going round about Book Day, and I’ve done it elsewhere for general reading books. It needed tweaking a bit for this, so here goes:
The cookbook I am reading for pleasure: in the downstairs loo are several books about cooking in the tropics, or books that I picked up in Australia last year. Currently I’m enjoying Masterchef The Cookbook (Vol 1). It features popular recipes by contestants, and some of the dishes the chefs challenged them with.
The cookbook I love most: this is really really difficult. The first Madhur Jaffrey, Nigel Slater? Ones with narrative or without? Something that introduced me to a whole new world, or is the perfect reference for the classics? Aaargh. Then there are the self-published ones from groups of friends, that include recipes I’ve eaten, and the voices that I heard describing them. The Christmas ones that have helped me form my own traditions. In the end, having dweebled all day, I have chosen The Wholefood Book by George Seddon. I was given it for a birthday present at university over 30 years ago, and have constantly been amazed at how every time I revisit it, recipes with modern twists and trends spring out at me. And the essays are full of advice on using fresh, local produce, reared organically and with respect. I’m not saying I’d trust all the recipes – it’s not a Jane Grigson or even a Delia – but most are interesting and simple. Deffo one that comes down off the shelf over and over.
The oldest cookbook I have: mmmm, is that oldest in terms of content, or the earliest one that came into my possession? Oldest content is in the Roman Cookery of Apicius, trans/ed by John Edwards. First that I actually bought with my own money may well be Cuisine et Gastronomie de Bretagne, by Louis le Cunff, which I got on a teenage holiday in Brittany. Not sure I’ve ever used either of them to cook from.
The newest cookbook: Again, most modern or the latest that I’ve acquired? Most modern is a tie between Ministry of Food – Thrifty Wartime Ways to Feed Your Family Today by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, which accompanied the Ministry of Food exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, and Our Family Table by Julie Goodwin. Julie was an Oz Masterchef winner, and I got a signed copy of her book in Melbourne last year. The latest one is also the winner of the next category:
The nearest cookbook: Apricots on the Nile, a Memoir with Recipes, by Colette Rossant. As yet unread. It wasn’t a deliberate purchase, Dad is having a big clearout and I got it in with a load of other books. It’s the nearest because it’s waiting to be catalogued.