Head of Fantastic Food at Abel & Cole
I own all the River Cottage books, including the handbooks. I was a bit torn between this first book, The River Cottage Meat book (which most good butchers have on their counters), and River Cottage Everyday (which I love for too many reasons to list). I decided on this book as it's the one I quote the most. The introduction to this book has such a powerful message: it's a manifesto for a better food future. Hugh writes about a 'food continuum,' how change isn't supposed to happen overnight but how small, gradual changes to the way you eat, approach and source food can build up to make a real difference to one's health and happiness, as well as rippling out positive effects on the wider food system. The book is not meant as a manual, nor a tome, but rather as a tool 'to kindle your enthusiasm for a number of possible projects, and provide essential information to help you get started.' It has certainly been that for me. Inspired by this book, I made my first pot of foraged nettle soup, grow sorrel, made my first ever batch of elderflower cordial. All these things are pretty mainstream now but when this book first came out, 15 years ago, they weren't.
Food blogger, writer and general witterer
I got this book around the same time that I started growing food in the garden and then at the allotment becoming quite engaged by the message of seasonality and sustainability inside; despite having no hair. Lots to read about regarding provenance and lots of recipes, the best of which is a simple courgette sauce for pasta and brushetta. Which is great for gluts.
Blogger of The Beach House Kitchen
Hugh just seemed like such a dude, poodling around in his Land Rover singing the Who. I loved it when he raided hedgrerows and forests for a foraged dinner and always got stuck in with a smile! Hugh now promotes a more veggie based diet and is always an interesting read.
I think this gets over by the later released (and when better known) Meat Book. This is such a comprehensive and well written piece of work.
Norwegian TV Chef
I got the book just as I inherited my family´s smallholding, so the book has been a recipe for life, not just for its dinners.
The first cook book that opened my eyes to real food and cooking.
Chef and cookbook author
Managing Director, Pinkster Gin
Food waste activist