Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Poppy Cooks The Food You Need

There are things I miss about lockdown - mostly the being able to stay at home, or stay at mum's home and hang out with her dog part of it. I wasn't very sociable before Covid, and now I have my first head cold since sometime in 2019 I miss the solitude or the excellent company of the dog even more. Colds are such an utterly miserable experience (I'm confident this isn't covid - tests agree, and I've been vaccinated against flu and pneumonia this year - I still feel shit). 

It is not the mood to approach Poppy in, she looks incredibly glamorous on the cover of her book (although she probably gets colds too, and probably bundles herself up in an old dressing gown and oversized slippers when she does) and reminds me that I should probably try and get to grips with Tik Tok which is where she made her breakthrough. 

Poppy's lockdown story is one I genuinely find encouraging. She lost her sous chef job at an exclusive members club in March 2020 (if I'm reading the bio correctly) but started cooking on Tik Tok as a creative outlet. She was a hit, fast gathering over a million followers, and now there's a cookbook getting some really good notices as well. Poppy undoubtedly did the hard work to get to this point, over a decade working up from the bottom in kitchens is tough by any standard, so I love that she's now getting to do this (hopefully) on her own terms. 

I'll also happily admit she's a phenomenon that had mostly passed me by. I don't even look online for written recipes, I'm aware that all sorts of things are happening out there but I'm very much a book person, a habit I can't imagine breaking at this point, so I'm glad Poppy has broken through into mainstream publishing with her impressive love of potatoes to show me what I've been missing.

The answer really does seem to be potatoes, they even make their way into a donut recipe - a perfectly reasonable starch to use and one of the things I'd really love an excuse to make. The book is set up around 12 techniques or recipes, and then builds on them starting with core and staple options, moving into brunch, and potato, then finishing with fancy AF recipes. 

It's a really useful book for the first time away from home, or first time with a proper kitchen, cook. Full of things you want to eat and great for building a repertoire of skills. My generation had Delia Smith, and the doorstop which was the complete cookery course. This book is shorter, better illustrated, and easier to learn from. I'm not saying we were short-changed back in the day, but how we live and eat has changed in the last 30 years and I haven't seen any book which underlines that as clearly for me as this one. 

It's not the recipes that do this particularly - they're an enticing mix of fairly traditional, and contemporary that all sound delicious, and I could probably find in some version or another in the books I already have (a couple of surprising potato suggestions aside). It's some alchemy in the presentation and attitude that feels like a sea change. A different style that I can't quite put my finger on, but that I think we're going to see a lot more of - though probably online rather than in print. 

Buy this for the younger cooks in your life, the ones just leaving home, and get them to cook for you. 

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