My friend C came round on Sunday evening to commiserate with me over the waterfall* that used to be my airing cupboard (plumber has identified the problem and is quoting the flat's owner what will no doubt be a large amount of money to fix it - everything has gone very quiet. Apart from in my flat where the steady drip, drip, drip of water is becoming increasingly hard to block out.) Eventually we got to talking about cookbooks - she was asking me what I thought of Rachel Khoo - I said she annoyed me; not you understand based on her book or tv show, I've not managed to catch the latter and haven't read the former, my prejudices are based on her little Paris flat being presumably leak free and an over abundance of large and stylish cookbooks on the market.
In the end it turned out I was annoyed by just about everything and everybody (I don't know what's put me in such a bad mood recently...) but the cook books I do get enthusiastic about are the small fit in your pocket type. I loved 'Tea at Fortnum and Mason' when it came out a couple of years ago and so could fairly be described as over excited when I saw a companion volume had been released - 'Honey and Preserves'. This one is mostly full of the sort of things your grandest aunt probably serves her guests at dinner parties (salmon in a warm cucumber sauce and the like) but there's a surprising amount of inspiration (and information) packed into this really quite small book. There's a description of the Fortnums beehives which makes me long to see them - they sound both grand and fun at the same time (to an architecture geek anyway) and a refreshing lack of personality. Like the shop there is a distinct identity, but it's unobtrusive - if there is a philosophy it's delivered in a slightly tongue in cheek fashion - this is about the finer things in life and a certain old fashioned traditionalism.
It's a refreshing approach and as I read things out to my partner - despite him being full of a very good dinner- he's salivating (it was mention of a whisky custard that did it). He is in all probability another reason why I've come to particularly like small (but perfectly formed) cookbooks; he doesn't have many (I have about 100 for every 1 he has) but I can sneak the small ones in - the same when we go to stay with my fathers Aga - this fits neatly into a suitcase/handbag/pocket... Not to be dismissed as a novelty item.
*This is only a very small exaggeration.