Thursday, 11 March 2021

Warm, Wise And Witty Words


A recent article in the Guardian referred to the increasing popularity of cookbook-memoir-hybrids. Not just recipes, but anecdotes and life stories intertwined.[eg Nigella's latest offering,"Cook, Eat, Repeat"] As usual, Liz is ahead of the curve here. Last summer, when I was in Norfolk, she lent me Laurie Colwin's 'Home Cooking' and then last month, her follow up 'More Home Cooking'. Thanks, Liz - I have loved these - they're the lockdown answer to comfort-eating but without the calories: comfort-food-reading!
I reviewed the first one last summer. This one is just as good - forty or so pieces [magazine articles, notes from talks etc] about all aspects of home cooking. I have fallen into bed exhausted after a day of sorting our possessions [pack, giveaway, discard] and taping up boxes - and indulged in reading a chapter or two of this book. And now I am reading it through again [to remind myself of bits I forgot in my tiredness] 
Her chapter titles are as intriguing as ever 
  • The Case of the Mysterious Flatbread
  • Desserts that Quiver
  • The Beet Goes On
  • Turkey Angst
  • The Glory of Chutney
  • Biscuits
I should point out that when Americans say biscuits we Brits say scones [Laurie calls them 'twin sisters'] She refers to a lot of her favourite cookbooks - and intriguingly, a high proportion are by British Cooks [she was writing in the late 80s] Jane and Sophie Grigson, Mary Norwak, Rose Mabey - many of whom were producing great cookbooks before the age of the TV celebrity chef. 
I am not sure I will ever attempt succotash, but peach pizza - a summer dessert- sounds worth a try. Like Julia Childs, Ms. Colwin is Very Fond of butter [watch the film "Julie&Julia" starring Meryl Streep and listen to the unctuous way in which Ms. Streep/Childs says the word butter!]
"After you have been a very good person for a very long time, and are as thin as a bean, you may decide to fall  briefly into sin. You want something simple and elegant that cannot be made without butter. There is only one thing that will do - shortbread. I would rather eat shortbread than any cake or cookie in the is the essence of butter"
I have often said that I cannot read Nigel Slater's food writing without my mouth watering - that is true through much of this book - but more than that, I find myself quietly smiling. This is about making meals for the ones we love, without the sort of fuss that leaves the cook unable to enjoy the fellowship round the table, because the time in the kitchen has left them in an exhausted, sweaty heap. 
Her chapter Real Food For Tots closes with these words
"Food is not fuel. It is not nutrition. It is fun, educational, horizon expanding, delightful. It is consoling, transporting and a comfort...If it is delicious, there is a good chance children will eat it.  We want our children to be independent thinkers, happy sweethearts, and cheerful parents, and it is not too much to ask that they be cheerful cooks and eaters too"
I'm both amazed, and thrilled, that my girls have achieved all those things, and they are passing them on to the next generation. It has taken me years to relax in the kitchen, and I know that Bob and the girls are much better at cooking than I am. Reserve Ms. Colwin's book from your library now, so you can collect it when they re-open!

Genuine Offer - Having used Ziffit so much this past year to reduce our library, I can really recommend them. And they have just sent me a code to pass on- get an extra £5 on your first trade with this one ... IYBRCFFMI


  1. That is interesting what you say about learning to relax in the kitchen. I'm quite an anxious chef for other people whereas CBC loves it (making a shocking amount of mess as he goes, dripping all over hobs and floors). But I'm fine just making made up dinner for the 2 of us.

  2. I have those books and love anything along this line of writing - food/memoirs. If I had to do it all over again I think I'd like to be a food historian.

  3. Thank you for the Ziffit code, it worked once I'd submitted over £10 worth of books.


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