Oh how I love this cookbook, my old friend. So many pages stained with red wine, tomato passata and the odd splash of squid ink. So true to the regionality of Italy, from the artichokes of Rome to the bigoli coll'anatra of the Veneto. Nothing trendy, everything regional, distinctive and true. And so uncompromising, yet so helpful.
My friends Clara and Les Luxford gave me this book decades ago, with the inscription "The taste of food is not to be shared by anyone, except those who already agree with you." A magnificent book that shares the rich and the modest recipes of every region in China, interspersed with wonderful quotes from imperial cookbooks from the various dynasties. I owe this book, and the Luxfords, a great deal.
David Rosengarten and Giorgio DeLuca
How good is this book? It’s a definite desert island pick – you would need it to know what to do with everything that grew on the desert island, everything you caught from the ocean, and if you were stuck for a while on said island, you’d have such diversity of cultures and cuisines and flavours and tricks and treats to play with. A brilliant, open-minded, open-hearted view of the world of food. And I love that they didn’t bother with dessert. Really, who needs dessert?
This is the definitive Japanese cookbook, the one I always turn to in order to find out how things are really done, as opposed to being done for the camera, or being compromised in some other way. It’s not hip, it’s not counter-culture, it IS culture. Magnificent on detail, uncompromising. And how lovely, that MFK Fisher wrote the foreword; what a lovely synergy of cultures.
I read and re-read this book as if it were a novel, I love the way Elizabeth David writes. It is so particular. This is by way of saying thanks to the author for a single recipe. One she documented in her travels in France, and brought to the wider world. One I have made SO many times over the years, I think I could make it underwater with one hand tied behind my back. Three words, people. Flourless Chocolate Cake. Thank you, Mrs David. For everything.
Each generation is defined by its cook books. I grew up with these wonderful kitchen ‘mothers’ through the English-speaking world: Madhur Jaffrey, Paula Wolfert, Jane Grigson, Elizabeth David, Marcella Hazan, Diane Kennedy, Yan Kit-So, Anna Del Conte and Claudia Roden. I loved this book, it inspired me to travel, to buy a couscoussiere, to go to the Tunisian deserts, to love rosewater and olive oil and dried apricots and dates – and of course (deep bow) to cook my body weight in flourless orange and almond cake.
Meredith Erickson, David McMillan and Fred Morin
I believe you would do very well on a desert island with this book. I’d definitely take it. It’s funny, it’s true, it’s VERY Montrealian, it’s old school and new school, it’s flavour and enjoyment and love of the table. I would chop down a tree, age the wood, plane out a table, and cook just one thing from this book, and know I had created a new civilisation.
This was a game-changer in the year 2000, and particularly significant for me, as that was the year I left Sydney for London to write for The Times as The Times Cook. In preparation, I spent some time in the kitchen at bill’s sunny little café in Darlinghurst, learning how to make his famous scrambled eggs – for my own personal greed, not for the job. I perfected those eggs in our maisonette in Notting Hill, and they never failed to give me a taste of home. A great book that showed what you can do with freshness, integrity and a little ‘why-not?’ as your guiding lights. Bill is such a lovely, natural cook who attracts great, simple ideas like a magnet and packages them beautifully – he simply deals with how we should all be cooking and eating at home while still having a life.
What a great reference book this is, from one of Australia’s natural teachers. You can open this book at any page and cook something for tonight’s dinner – and you will have gained more than a meal, you would have learnt something. Stephanie Alexander is one of the ‘mothers’ of Australia, along with Maggie Beer, Charmaine Solomon, Diane Holuigue, Margaret Fulton and so many more. With this incredibly useful book, Stephanie set out to do an alphabetical guide to seasonal produce, meats and fish, thereby endearing herself to an entire generation of home cooks.
Certain cookbooks in my six metres of shelves are positively maimed with a great number of sticky post-it notes – and Yotam Ottolenghi’s books are the most stickered. You. Just. Want. To. Cook. Everything. Green couscous; avocado, quinoa and broad bean salad; beetroot, orange and black olive salad; baked eggs with yoghurt and chilli. Sensible, logical, vegetable-driven recipes, beautifully and generously explained in a warm, inclusive voice, nothing pretentious or manipulative, leading to stunningly successful results by every level of home cook. So many people I know have surprised themselves – and changed the way they cook – by cooking Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes. That has to be a measure of great success.
Very Simple Food
Totally Simple Food