It was my birthday last week. I had a lovely day, thanks very much for asking. A really stonking lunch at the French Pantry in Ludlow (where we ate so much the Missus and I had to have a lie-down afterwards), and I got a few presents too. The older I get the shorter my birthday wish list becomes. This year I asked for a loo seat, socks and a whisk. Received ‘em all with thanks.
It’s now in the run up to Christmas that it’s impossible to open a weekend newspaper without being confronted with lists. List of things that you simply must buy for the twenty-something hipster / middle aged hippy / little monkey / adrenalin junkie and other such barmy demographics, ad infinitum. Gift porn for the unimaginative.
I adore recipe books, in fact I verge on fetishist about them. As someone with an overwhelmingly nerdy interest in all things edible, I devour food literature. The walls of my house are bound together with cookery books good and bad.
Should you be unimaginative enough to need a list, here, for what it’s worth is a short list of books I’ve read this year that I would like to find in my stocking on Christmas morning, were it not that I already own them:
1) The Ethicurean Cookbook: recipes, thoughts and ramblings from the team behind the Bristol restaurant of the same name. Organised by season, with inspiration coming from their own walled garden, this is a book that makes my heart sing. The recipes whilst a tad ‘cheffy’ for me, inspire and provoke ideas. The photography is beyond stunning.
2) Eat - The little book of fast food, by Nigel Slater: Britain’s most preeminent food writer triumphs again. With over 600 recipes, all bases are covered. Slater’s food is accessible and non-scary, his writing borders on the poetic.
3) Food DIY, by Tim Hayward: more of a manual than a recipe book. Hayward is a bloke’s bloke and here he teaches us with macho hilarity everything from curing salami to cooking lobster in a wheelbarrow. Yes, really.
4) It’s All Good, by Gwyneth Paltrow: I’m throwing this in as a curveball. I do not own this, and if St Nick pops this in my stocking, I’ll get him. The Guardian describe this as a book “…characterised by a complete fear of food.” Sounds tasty.
Next week, you’ll be pleased to know, with a full week until Christmas day, I’m going to hang back on telling you how to make the perfect hassle-free Christmas lunch. Because, a) all the other papers told how to do it weeks ago, and b) I’ve never cooked Christmas lunch in my life. This year, like all the other years, I’ll rely on Mum.