Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Where my cookbooks live

Today was a MOST traumatic day which I'd been dreading for weeks: it was finally time to choose another unfortunate cookbook from the "A-Team" (the prime-time three-shelf location in the kitchen) to be relegated to the "Second Division" (the poor cousin's inferior bookshelves upstairs). It really upsets me to have to "make the cut" once in a while as I feel I'm saying a tearful good-bye to a treasured long-time companion, but I couldn't put it off any longer - the A-Teamers were simply bursting at their seams and threatening to take the whole structure down (wine rack and all...). So, with regret, this time it was Angela Hartnett's "A Taste of Home" which was fired (nice-enough but ultimately boring). But to make the shameful transition less painful, I've placed her between fellow Great British Chef contestant Shaun Hill's "The Merchant House" (wonderful but simply too cheffy for the pole position) and fellow Italian Valentina Harris' "Recipes from an Italian Terrace" (again, too boring). (Unfortunately, though, Angela now finds herself on the shelf above the collected works of her former mentor Gordon Ramsay (terrific, but not for day-to-day use) which are still kicking up a vicious rant each and every day for being "dissed" - they're "F****ING FURIOUS MATE!")

There are some books, however, that I could NEVER banish from the top spot - carrying them upstairs would be the equivalent of carrying a most-loved, respected and revered grandparent to a remote mountain and leaving them there to die... so - these are the works of:

Nigel Slater - his greedy passion for food - and his "passionate" writing style - are simply second to none: he's been one of my (and fellow foodies') biggest kitchen heroes for 20 years. (I remember a Brussels dinner party in the mid-90s were everyone was cooing: "Oh, is this one of Nigel's?" "Aah - Nigel's come up trumps again!" "Yes, you just can't beat Nigel!" to which the (visiting) brother of the hostess inquired brightly: "So who is this Nigel friend of yours then - does he live in Brussels too?" Cue sheepish muttering...) 

Jamie Oliver - do I need to say ANYTHING?

Bill Granger - this Australian chef is another food hero of mine. His cooking is simply wonderful: inspired, innovative and experimental - but above all uncomplicated and simple.

Peter Gordon I so adore this New Zealand chef (and founder of London's legendary "The Sugar Club" and “The Providores” restaurants): He is the king of vibrant Pacific Rim flavours which are easily accessible to the home cook.

So, that's it for me today - I just looked in on Angela and she's settling in ok. (She IS giving me the dirty eye though...) But which cookbooks have prime position on your bookshelves – and why? I'd love to hear from you! 


  1. Great post!
    Well, on our A-shelf, my and my wife's favourites have to share places which can sometimes lead to awkward moments. My stern but indispensable River Café volumes, along with the more lighthearted but equally indispensable Rick Steins and the downright frivolous Nigellas sometimes bicker with her Rachel Allens and have to be positively torn away from her Delia Smiths... and, yes, it's always Nigel who mediates and restores the peace.

    1. Hahaha - I can see them all! Rick on his own (whom I really rate but who always comes across as a giggly, bumbling fool) would go down fast against feisty Rachel though... ;-)