Last year I did Not Delia’s top ten of the cookbooks I use most often. Things haven’t changed much (and I still haven’t got around to writing book reviews for some of them yet) so there seemed to be little point in repeating the exercise again this year. Instead, I can tell you about the top ten books I bought (or was given) in 2009.
1. Larousse Gastronomique – 2009 edition
I had an old 1999 paperback edition of the Concise Larousse Gastronomique which has served me well, so I was rather, erm, surprised when Mr ND returned from a shopping trip with a surprise for me – the newest version of this classic book, elegantly presented in black and copper livery. It’s a whopper, weighing in at over 3 kilos. It’s been updated to include all sorts of new information and photographs. I’m not sure I can do it justice with my own description so here’s the blurb:
Larousse Gastronomique, the world’s classic culinary reference book, is known for its authoritative and comprehensive collection of recipes. Here it is brought up to date for 2009 in an attractive edition containing over 900 new colour and black and white photographs. All chapters have been read and edited by field specialists, and 85 biographies of chefs have been added. Entries have also been regrouped for increased accessibility. Originally created by Prosper Montagne and published in 1938, this essential addition to any kitchen has withstood the test of time and become an invaluable source of information for every enthusiastic cook. Without the exaggeration and extravagant distractions of many of today’s cookery titles, the new Larousse Gastronomique contains recipes, tips, cooking styles and origins for almost every dish in history.
This is a seriously impressive book.
Amazon UK is currently offering this at half price (£30) with free UK delivery – a chance not to be missed!
Hardback, 1206 pages
2. The Fat Duck Cookbook – Heston Blumenthal
I’ve always been curious to read about Heston Blumenthal. What enthusiastic cook wouldn’t be? Until now, I’d not owned any of his cookbooks, though, as I’m not much of a food scientist (more the “bung it in” type) and we don’t happen to have liquid nitrogen and such things lurking in the kitchen. Also I’d perceived this culinary alchemy as being somewhat dangerous – at least in the “don’t try this at home” sort of way. However, when I saw this book it was an absolute “must-have”!
The book is in three sections: 1) History – essentially an autobiography; 2) Recipes – I doubt if I’ll be trying out very many of them soon; and 3) Science – hmm. This idiosyncratic book has often been described as a coffee table book, and certainly the art work and photography it contains make it worthy of any posh coffee table. But it’s much, much more than that. It’s a work of art, and I predict it’ll become a piece of food history. I only got it a few days ago and have only dipped into it so far. I think it’ll become a staunch kitchen companion for many years to come. But I’m still a bit wary of the recipes. Heston is not exactly Delia LOL! There again, neither am I and perhaps that’s all the encouragement I need.
My challenge for 2010 is to make at least one of Heston Blumenthal’s recipes. (No liquid nitrogen, though.)
It’s also currently half price on Amazon UK!
The Fat Duck Cookbook
Hardback, 532 pages
ISBN 978 0 7475 9737 7