Friday 19 January 2007


I have a very bad cookbook buying habit and like nothing better than drooling over new books even though my bookshelves are groaning under the accumulated weight of cookbooks, food writing, novels and my collections of magazines. So, to make a bad situation even worse, yesterday I received three new books.

The first, and biggest (it made my arms hurt when I was reading it last night), is Larousse Gastronomique. I don't think I can tell you much about this that you won't already know, it's big, it's comprehensive and it's absolutely fascinating once you start reading. I spotted a recipe for accra, salt cod fish cakes, which I am planning to try soon.

The second new arrival to the shelves is Real Cooking by Nigel Slater. I didn't do too much in depth reading of this last night but, judging from my successes with previous Nigel Slater titles, I will be making and enjoying recipes in no time.

The third, and looking like a good choice, is The Prawn Coktail Years by Simon Hopkinson and Lindsey Bareham. This book is centred around recipes that would have featured in hotels and restaurants of post-war Britain from the 1950's - 70's. I am planning a full menu from the book and while Black Forest Gateau would be a tempting climax I think it will be pipped to the post by treacle tart. I always like a good looking cookbook and the illustrations in this make me a very happy reader.

There is, however, one recipe that I am not at all tempted by. Has anyone ever noticed how some Chinese restaurants have a 'European' section on their menu? If you have then you will undoubtedly have seen that for some unknown reason Chicken Maryland always features here along with omlettes and steak. Last night I discovered what the mystical Maryland actually is and I have now realised that it involves cooked banana which is just very wrong. I understand that this sentiment is not shared by many but the texture of mashed or cooked banana makes me gag, even the act of mashing banana makes me gag although, and they say there is an exception to every rule, I can just about get through the pain for a banana loaf. Anyway, needless to say, I will not be making this classic recipe although if chicken and banana appeals to you I'm sure it is a great.


Lady M said...

I draw the line at chicken and pineapple!! LOL.

Good finds. I think I need to pick up a Nigel Slater one of these days as I have been hearing so much good stuff from you folks.


Kathryn said...

Hi Gemma!

I own those three books - Nigel's I've had for ages and the other two are Christmas acquisitions. I love reading the Larousse; I dip in a lot. I also enjoy reminiscing a bit with the Prawn Cocktail Years. I've made the hot stuffed vine leaves and they were yummy!

Kathryn x

Freya said...

The Nigel SLater book won't let you down (and you must get ahold of one too Ilana!)..I think that cooked bananas do sound like an abhorration but they actually taste delicious! It's a 'try to get your head around it' kind of deal!
Enjoy the books!

Gemma said...

Yes, I am looking forward to gettng to know all 3 books and Ilana - you should but Appetite first if you don't have any Nigel Slater books.

Cooked banana is a texture thing as much as a taste thing but maybe I should challenge myself more!

Gemma x

karens kitchen said...

Hi Gemma
I have Larousse. I bought it cheap in a shop in Surrey and lugged it all the way in the train to Edinburgh. The Prawn Cocktail years sounds tempting. Have you read Nigel Slater`s autobiography, Toast? It`s amusing yet poignant and is all about him growing up in the 1970s eating typical 1970s food.