Sunday, March 22, 2020

Pride and Pudding - Regula Ysewijn

Turns out it's not just in politics where a week can be a long time, even my ideas about cooking are changing daily as it becomes increasingly clear that some things (flour particularly) are going to be in short supply. Weirdly, whilst I might not be able to bake them for myself, there's no shortage of cakes or biscuits for sale locally, so sweet treats are hardly off the menu, even if they should be.

My current treat of choice is a hot chocolate, made with actual chocolate, and in the morning (I'm drinking one as I write). It's a nice thing to have an hour or two after breakfast especially when the mornings are still cold. It's also a habit that I picked up after reading Sue Quinn's wonderful 'Cocoa' which has a few recipes for really good hot chocolate. It's another cookbook with a lot of reading in it which I think is what we need at the moment.

There are also Kate Young's Little Library Cookbooks which are great companions for anyone stuck at home (she also has a ridiculously decadent hot chocolate recipe - although that's definitely more of a late afternoon affair). Her books are great for recommending novels, and for encouraging the game of picking the perfect food to accompany your reading. There are worse ways to amuse yourself and it's a lot more productive than following threads on twitter about panic buying and the like*.

If you have them this is also probably the moment that Niki Segnit's books are really going to come in useful. Wondering what to make out of the odd collection of ingredients at the backs of cupboard and fridge? A flavour thesaurus won't go amiss for helping put things together. 'Lateral Cooking' is really good for when it comes to having to expand a repertoire of skills and ideas too. 'Lateral Cooking' is another book that makes interesting reading beyond a search for current inspiration, and actually I think I'm going to spend some serious time with it over the next few days.

In the end though it's Regula Ysewijn's 'Pride and Pudding' that's going to be my choice of the day. She has a baking book due out on the second of April which I've been looking forward to for such a long time (Oats in the North, Wheat From the South). I'm hoping it'll be easy enough to get hold of. I'll wait as long as I have to, but it's helpful to have little things like this to anticipate.

There are a few reasons to love Ysewijn's books. There's her meticulous research into the history of what she's looking at, the way she makes food history so immediate coupled with the acknowledgement that you might not want (or be able) to cook everything in a book like 'Pride and Pudding'. It doesn't make it any less interesting to read about. But the real cherry on top is her beautiful photography, especially images inspired by Dutch and Flemish old masters, and in Pride and Pudding, the equally delicious design work by her husband, Bruno Vergauwen. 

I'd really love one of Ysewijn's food photographs in my wall, her work is delightful, and it's more than a bonus in her books. It brings the pleasure of childhood delight in picture books (the really good ones that were considered a bit of a treat to get off the shelf and that you were told to be careful with) 
back to my adult world.

*I'm trying not to get sucked into the negative side of the platform. But for all the downsides it's an excellent place to keep up with bookish news - I'm finding so many recommendations there right now. To chat, and because none of my immediate family are on it, get out some immediate worries about them. 


  1. I'm a huge Regula fan and I've made quite a few recipes from Pride & Pudding and also from her website; all turned out well! Do have a look at her instagram and the Bake Corona thread she started - which is enormously cheering, and I'm so tempted to squander my egg rations! If you can work out how to watch Belgian Bake-Off it is a howl - I got quite hooked a year or so ago - and if I can only remember how I accessed it online, I'll be going back. I love her clothes apart from anything else ... and who knew that her hair was long enough to sit on!

    1. I really need to see if I can find Belgian Bake off. I follow her on Instagram and Twitter already - again, beautiful images. She's an absolute star.

  2. PS She's in today's Sunday Times.

  3. Hayley Thank you so much for your kind words, they really are so appreciated.
    Also, if you'd like that photo, I'm sure we could arrange it that a printer near you would print out a file I can send so you can have your picture on the wall! Lets talk about that when corona blows over... Take care, stay safe and cosy

  4. I have been fascinated by British puddings since I started watching The Great British Bake Off, I think I need to add this one to my birthday list. I love cookbooks with lots of history. And now I have to see if I can track down Belgian Bake Online! I haven't seen the American or Irish versions yet but I've seen most of the Canadian one and I loved it.