Size is the theme of this year’s cookery books, several of which outweigh the Bible. This is fine for quantity of recipes and photos, but you’ll need a lectern to use them, says Leslie Geddes-brown
Fortnum & Mason: The Cook Book
Tom Parker Bowles(4th Estate, £30) At last, an English cookbook of which to be proud. No mention of kale or quinoa, but steak-andkidney pudding, potted shrimps and boiled egg and soldiers. Tom Parker Bowles is a breezy writer with no pretensions, which makes this a most enjoyable read. An excellent present for a chap. tomato soup with added wristwatches? As you might expect, it’s good on cocktails, such as Dorothy Parker’s Champagne Punch.
Recipes from the Woods
Jean-francois Mallet (Phaidon/larousse, £29.95) I thought foraging for food was just a passing fad until I read this. It includes venison, pheasant and partridge, all available from my supermarket. Blackberries and herbs are not a problem, although wild mushrooms are (why, when Italian greengrocers have basketsfull?). The recipes are so beguiling and the beauties of autumn in the photographs so evocative that I’m converted. And I love the tartan cover—i have a jacket to match. However, the dishes are seductive: how about parsnip-and-apple soup with gin?
Brindisa: The True Food of Spain
Monika Linton (4th Estate, £29.95) Everything you need to know about Spanish food from a writer who has spent 28 years finding out. Jamón, olive oil and cheese are all exhaustively explained. Good recipes, too, such as apple gazpacho, braised chard stalks and anchovies served in their colourful tins. It’s a big book and requires a good tapas for energy before lifting. idea of visiting the old French colonies and provinces to see how they had been influenced by Gallic cuisine. She gets around. Not just the Provence and Pondicherry of the title, but Vietnam, Guadeloupe and La Réunion. In a single book, we have Indian, Eastern, Caribbean and, rather surprisingly, Norman dishes. The designers have made the most of the variation with atmospheric pictures.
Land of Fish and Rice
Fuchsia Dunlop (Bloomsbury, £26) The writer specialises in authentic Chinese dishes that the beginner can contemplate without panic. She includes appendices on ingredients and equipment, adding that most are available in Chinese supermarkets. As many towns can summon such a shop, we can now find lotus roots, lily bulbs and silver-ear fungus. Go on, give Buddhist roast goose (without a goose) a try.
River Cottage A to Z
Hugh Fearnley-whittingstall and the River Cottage team (Bloomsbury, £40) You need a lectern to cope with this monster, whose ‘team’ includes writers Mark Diacono and Gill Meller (see above). It’s not exhaustive—i keep hoping someone will write about Urfa and Aleppo chillies—but has lots of new ways with old favourites—as it should at more than 700 pages.