There are so many ‘best of’ cookbook lists around at this time of year. If you can bring yourself to read another, here’s my top 5 pick for 2019. I’ve read and cooked from them all. Only two are new publications. For me, they really stand out in this year’s barrage of books. The other three books are vintage, much-loved ones that have done more than teach me to cook. They are still continually taken down from my bookshelf and that's why they make this list.
Pasta Grannies by Vicky Bennison
Jane Grigson is my first ‘Guru’. I could have highlighted any of her books here but as I love fruit-growing particularly, I’ve chosen her Fruit Book. The depth of Jane Grigson’s food knowledge, the breadth of her interests and the lyricism of her writing combine to make her the most readable of writers. A glance at her Acknowledgements page in this book, first published in 1982, tells you how well she informed herself in preparation for writing. It is an A-Z of fruit and, therefore, ideal for dipping into when you want to know how best to make use of, say, that punnet of sour gooseberries you’ve just acquired or that glut of ripe strawberries. The cracked spine and splattered pages of my own copy testifies to how useful I find this book. But it is more than a source of quick inspiration. Open the page at ‘Fig’ and you will be treated to two fascinating pages covering cultivation, religion, art, folklore, sexuality, poetry, medicine and opinion. Beautifully simple recipes follow, from Duck in Port Wine and Figs to Spanish Fig Ice Cream, and Mme Verdier’s Black Fig Jam.
Roast Chicken and Other Stories
Published by Ebury Press