I've long been a fan of food porn - I pick up Australian Gourmet Traveller whenever I can, I have a significant relationship with Amazon's 'cooking, food and wine' section, and I covet my sister's substantial cook book collection. And these days, now that we live in an apartment with a seriously good kitchen, I'm actually not just looking at the pretty pictures! No, these days I'm actually putting some of this ogling to good use and (heaven forbid!) following the recipes, or at the very least using some of the ideas in the recipes...
So here are three cook books I'm thoroughly enjoying right now (all going well I'll hopefully post some recipes from them down the track too).
India by Pushpesh Pant (published by Phaidon) is to Indian what The Silver Spoon is to Italian. It is ridiculously comprehensive (the pickle and chutney section alone is 25 pages long), and it also has a great introduction which gives you a bit of history and an overview of the tastes and styles across different regions. Plus, it's designed to look a bit like a bag of rice - cool, yes?
Salad as a Meal by Patricia Wells (published by Harper Collins) was recently added to the kitchen cupboard as part of my ongoing attempt to not get any bigger and to be a little bit healthy (or at least to feel a bit healthy). I love Patricia's straightforward, no nonsense approach mixed with what seems to me to be a frightfully English upper middle class sensibility. When I read about her favourite 'haunts in Provence' and how she uses 'antique French molds' for cheese making, I can't help but think of a voice not dissimilar to Prue and Trude. And I do love her generously wide definition of what constitutes a 'salad' - roast beef on buttery toast as a salad? This woman speaks my language!
The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit (published by Bloomsbury) is I guess not, strictly speaking, a cook book (although it does have recipes in it). It's more a flavour pairing guide, a source of inspiration that's full of interesting tidbits about food. It's written with a large dose of wit and humour too, so it's fun to read even when you're not about to cook (although it might make you a bit peckish).
This book is perfect for when you want to experiment a bit, or if you're a bit like me and consider recipes as rough guides rather than strict orders to follow. It's perfect for when you're at the market and spy some freshly shelled Spring peas that you have to have. Just look up 'pea' and you'll find such wonderful pointers as: 'liking pea and chicken is about as interesting as liking warm sunshine...' and 'Pea & Pork - as fitting a pair as legs in breeches...' and 'Surf 'n' Turf is all very well but fish goes best with ingredients that truly taste of turf, not just graze on it...'
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Do you have any favourite cook books at the moment? I'd love to know if you do! Tell me in the comments below, and if you do your own post on your own blog, make sure you leave the link in the comments too!