Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Happy on Hypatia Avenue No. 3: Good Cookery Books

I have a big collection of cookery books and books about food. Each one fills me with joy and while Mr Hypatia Avenue can happily read thick tomes of non-fiction on political, social and economic history or collected essays by big hitters such as George Orwell and Gore Vidal (he's terribly clever), I can read a collection of Catalan cookery recipes from cover to cover. For the fellow food-lovers and bookworms who follow this blog (hello Planethalder!), here is an incomplete but indicative list of what's on my foodie bookshelf:

Nigel Slater (2)

River Cafe
Heston Blumenthal

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall
Claudia Roden - The Book of Jewish Cookery Irish Traditional
Scottish Heritage Food
Music, Food and Love (a Chinese musician's memoirs mainly about food, with recipes)
Elizabeth David (2)
Ainsley Harriott's Cooking for Friends and Family

The Alice B Toklas Cookery Book

The Elizabeth David books are classics and one of them was a wedding present (thanks Sir Humphrey and Lady Humphrey) The recipes fill me with horror but I can't stop going back to them... the stand out recipe is for a chicken and ham pie which, once you have combined the butter, cream, lard and animal fats is about 85 per cent cholesterol. And then, just before serving, you're instructed to poke a hole in the top and pour in a pint of boiling double cream.
I love pie but I like the idea of living beyond 45 as well.

The Ainsley Harriott book was a present and not something I would pick for myself but I was pleasantly surprised by the West Indian recipes within. The Alice B Toklas book is full of appalling food and even worse name-dropping but I'm learning more about Alice and her relationship with Gertrude Stein, which makes the reading even more fascinating. I'm looking forward to a live show about the two later this year - and I'll get to try the food too!
And then there's this...

The launch involved massive trays of Portuguese cakes and glasses of white port or bottles of syrupy chocolate milk, plus lots of beautiful people sauntering over from design offices and work/live warehouse conversions in nearby Shoreditch. Not only did I get my book signed along with doodles of the authors' favourite cakes, I also got a wall chart that describes, in mouthwatering photography and text, the history, ingredients and signicant features of each Portuguese cake ever made and sold. Portugal is definitely on the list of places to visit, even if I can only order cake and coffee and the occasional glass of port when I'm there. I won't be unhappy, not at all...

1 comment:

Planethalder said...

I recognise a few of those spines! In our household though it's M who reads not just the political hardbacks but the cookery books cover to cover - that's why he loves cookery books with lots of cultural background in them like the Jewish cookbook by Roden. Me? I simply like eating what he's cooked! He's away right now. Needless to say I am eating alot of defrosted leftovers.