Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Cookbooks - a wish list

I've spent the last few days more or less sofa bound with a particularly horrible cold - which has had its upside. The hacking cough, vicious headache, blocked and snotty nose, and complete lack of energy has forced me to do nothing more strenuous than drink honey and lemon and alternate between browsing Amazon or twitter. Both have provided a wish list of forthcoming cookbooks that suggest there's a lot to look forward to over the next few months.

This is by no means an exhaustive list - even of the books I'd quite like, there are so many at this time of year - but they're definitely the ones that I'll be looking out for first.

'Lateral Cooking' by Niki Segnit is officially out on the 20th September from Bloomsbury, but the Waterstones app suggests my local branch already has copies, so when I can face the walk I'm going to investigate. Her Flavour Thesaurus is brilliant, and was something really different when it appeared. This is apparently a sort of companion which takes base recipes (say for a custard) and then builds on it with different varietons and tweaks until you have a considerable repertoire to call on. I really want to see how Segnit approaches this, if it's even half as good as her last book it'll be worth having.

Time: a Year and a Day in the Kitchen by Gill Meller, also out on the 20th of September, published by Quadrille. When Gather came out a couple of years ago it felt like a really important milestone in defining modern British cookery. With its roots deep in the Dorset countryside where Meller lives it also set a benchmark for what I want from cookbooks that focus on a particular locality. I'm really looking forward to more of his recipes and philosophy about food.

Quadrilles list is quite something for this autumn; 'Black Sea: Dispatches and Recipes Through Darkness and Light' by Caroline Eden (Samarkand was another winner from 2016, as enjoyable to read as to use) has one a particularly beautiful looking cover, I'm told by those who have actually seen it that it's even more wonderful when you get your hands on a copy. I'd buy this book for the cover alone, and on the strength of Samarkand would buy anything Eden wrote - even if it was covered in crisp packets, so yes, I'm excited by this one.

Also from Quadrille is Trine Hahnemann's 'Copenhagen Food' due on the 4th October. Her Scandinavian Christmas book is one of the best bargains I've ever picked up in a clearance sale (it now comes with a much nicer cover than my copy has and is good for far more than Christmas) and I really liked her Scandinavian Baking and Comfort Food books too. This one promises to explore the food culture and customs of Copenhagen district by district as well as provide recipes. It's the sort of book I should probably resist for lack of space, and probably won't because I have no self control.

Looking at 'Copenhagen Food' led to 'The Nordic Baking Book' by Magnus Nilsson. It's out on the 15th October from Phaidon and looks enormous. I have various books that cover as much Scandinavian style baking as I'm ever likely to do, but.... I really like his Nordic Cookbook from the same series. It's got fabulous photography and explores all sorts of things that other books gloss over (I don't want to eat puffin or whale but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in how important it's been to the food culture of places like Iceland or the Faroes). In the end this might just be hard to resist.

Also from Phaidon, and an inevitable result of showing an interest in Nordic Baking, I found 'The German Cookbook' by Alfons Schubeck. I've waited years for something good on German cooking to appear in English and it finally seems to be happening. I don't know if this is exactly the book I'm looking for, but it certainly looks comprehensive. My interest in this is that my Grandmother was German, she ended up here just after the war which wasn't easy, and she never talked about her past. She's gone now and perhaps belatedly I want to know more about that culinary heritage (she wasn't much of a cook, so this is a purely romantic quest without even memory to explain it).

Which brings me to Anja Dunk's 'Strudel, Noodles and Dumplings: The New Taste of German Cooking' published by Fourth Estate last week. I have actually seen this one, and want it a lot. The flavours are not ones I'm used to, and I'm intrigued by them. Do I need both I wonder (I know I don't, and whilst I want both, this is probably the one to buy).

More unfamiliar flavour combinations from Nik Sharma and 'Season: Big Flavours, Beautiful Food' out 2nd of October from Chronicle Books. Nik is an American (San Francisco area) food blogger who I was completely unaware of until yesterday, but this looks very good. American books mean odd ingredients and measures, the measuring thing is easy enough to work out, but some of the ingredients might be difficult to source. On the other hand this does look like a great book for helping me find a use for some of the interesting looking Asian ingredients Leicester abounds in.

Meanwhile there's Tom Parker-Bowles 'Fortnum and Mason: Christmas and Other Winter Feasts' out in the 18th of October from Fourth Estate to look forward too. I have a soft spot for Fortnum and Masons. It's one of my happy places, possibly because of their canelés, also because there's always something interesting to look at in there, and definitely because it's such an institution. If it's anything like his last Cookbook for them I won't use it a lot, but it'll have a few absolute winners in it that I'll keep coming back to. I also expect it'll be fun, and pretty to look at - which seems perfect for getting in a Christmassy mood when the time comes.

'The Beer Kitchen: The Art and Science of Cooking with Beer' by Mellisa Cole, out on the 4th of October from Hardie Grant is one I need for work, as well as wanting anyway. Beer is where my product knowledge sometimes lets me down, it's not my passion (compared to the wine and spirits part of what I sell) but beer is great for cooking with, and theoretically much easier to pair food with than wine is. This one should really help me do that and it's a book I've been happily anticipating for a while.


  1. Sorry about the cold but delighted it gave you the time to put together this list! The German cookbooks are going right on to my wish list.

    1. The cold has lifted sufficiently for me to venture out to my local Waterstones today where they had both German books. They both look good, the Phaidon one is even more tempting in life than when I read about it. I have no idea where all these books are going to go, but there's some great looking stuff around at the moment. I don't know which one to get first either - at least these are nice problems to have.

  2. How would one go about buying you one of these books as a thank you for all the excellent recommendations I've had from you? And I can't be the only one. Have you thought of a wish list or a tip jar?

  3. That's a really kind thought, but I'd feel really bad about taking you up on it. I just like having somewhere to talk about some of the things that interest me or that I'm really enthusiastic about. The best thing about it is when people comment and you know that they share the same enthusiasms. But thank you again, you've made me feel all warm inside!