Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Vinegar Cupboard - Angela Clutton

I don't often use Amazon these days. I don't find it significantly cheaper for many of the things I want, getting deliveries to my flat is a bit of a pain (they don't like leaving them, which is fair because it isn't secure, and there isn't a click and collect place nearby) and I prefer to shop on the high street. Still, I needed an oven light bulb which thanks to online retailers undercutting high street retailers were unavailable to buy in Leicester, and ended up ordering a couple of books too.

One of them was 'The Vinegar Cupboard' which I'd been eyeing up for a while, and though the book itself is excellent, the state it arrived in had hardened my anti Amazon stance. It was the kind of grubby and scuffed that looks like it's been kicking around in sales bins for months, and there were greasy finger marks on the cover. Which took away a lot of the new book excitement. Nor can I find a way to complain to Amazon about it. I can complain about the driver - but he wasn't the problem. I can leave a poor review, but that's unfair on an excellent book. I suppose I could have sent it back, but that's a lot of extra hassle for me. It's altogether an unsatisfactory situation.

As is the fact that my kitchen then drains still aren't fixed, which means I'm eating a lot of sandwiches (minimal washing up) and getting increasingly angry with the neighbour who is withholding consent to get the work done (floorboards need to come up in both flats). Together the two things mean I've not had as much fun with this book as I had hoped to by now.

Which is a shame because it's got a lot going for it - including lavish use of flavour wheels which I'm always a fan of. It's also a particularly well indexed book, which is something else I appreciate (the lack of an index is currently spoiling another otherwise excellent book I'm currently reading). There is a list of vinegar producers to look out for, which whilst it makes no claims to do anything but scratch the surface, is a handy place for a reader to start making a wish list from. There's an index of the recipes by Vinegar type which is really useful, and then an index for everything.

I wanted this book because the recipes in it look great, but even more because whilst I'm aware that vinegar is a useful thing to have around I'm a bit lost when it comes to the subtleties. Which means every so often I end up throwing away sticky, dusty, bottles years past their best before dates, used for one recipe that called for them and then forgotten.

It's a bonus that 'The Vinegar Cupboard ' is a joy to read too, with plenty of history and vinegar legend, as well as really comprehensive breakdowns of flavour profiles. It's easy to see why it won the 2018 Jane Grigson Trust Award. I'm really glad I've got it, I just wish I'd bought it from an actual shop.


  1. I am so sorry that your neighbour is withholding consent for getting your drains fixed - there must, surely, be a way of enforcing this?

    As for Amazon, if you log in and then go right to the bottom of the page, there is a section for Help there.

    I don't often buy from them but I should because when I do surveys they are usually paid in Amazon vouchers and mine have added up rather alarmingly recently since one survey paid out £100! I will probably get things for the flat rather than books.

  2. I'm sure there will be, it's just trying to keep everything amicable and avoiding the expense of possible legal costs. I can understand why he wants to ignore a problem that isn't affecting him particularly badly (it's me and the flat above me that are really suffering) but it's also really selfish. I've got holiday coming up and will be so pleased to get away for a couple of weeks.

    Amazon are useful for some things I just find I don't like online shopping much so avoid it when I can. I tried the help option but there didn't seem to be anything for goods turning up in a slightly disappointing state (not bad enough to send back, but bad enough to want to say something about it). Vouchers are always fun to spend!