The Food of Spain, by Claudia Roden, (Michael Joseph) filled me with a strong surge of excitement and nostalgia as I looked at Claudia Roden’s new hefty tome The Food of Spain for the first time. Excitement to finally set eyes on this book, the result of five years of research and the latest in a long line of supremely detailed, sociologically fascinating cookery books written by Claudia Roden. I also felt a strong rush of nostalgia reading this book, having lived in Spain and being a devout hispanophile. I am convinced that anyone who is interested in Spanish food and culture will also feel the same looking through this very evocative book, packed with well and lesser known recipes and stunning photographs.
I am particularly excited to see such a definitive book on Spanish food, as I have believed for many years that the food of Spain is, at its best, absolutely unbeatable, with flavours and ingredients still deriving from every region. This is something which has been explored in Italy many times over, but much less so in Spain. I immediately wanted to read this wonderful book from cover to cover and soak up every detail and indeed enjoyed every page.
Let’s Eat, Tom Parker Bowles, (Pavillion) is probably the biggest surprise of 2012. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. Filled with plenty of favourite recipes and some interesting new things to try, particularly in terms of Asian-inspired recipes from his travels, initially, I wasn’t blown away by the selection of recipes in this book. The revelation was, in fact, when I started cooking from this book. Every recipe I have made from Let’s Eat has been utterly delectable and loved by everyone who has tried it. I would go as far as saying it’s a pretty essential kitchen companion for every keen home cook. Yes, the recipes do involve proper cooking – it’s not the book to go for if you are looking for ideas for supper on a weeknight from shopping bag to table in under half an hour, but what it does, it does very well. The cover sleeve features Tom’s scribbled notes, stained with wine rings and splatters. I’m sure yours will look like this on the inside very soon, like mine. A great book to cook your way through.
Salt, Sugar, Smoke, by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley) is the much-anticipated latest book by Diana Henry, which focuses on preserving. I am a devout reader of Henry’s books and this one does not disappoint. The first chapter focuses on jams, jellies and chutney, and I have been particularly struck by the gorgeous combinations of flavours – I can’t wait for next summer to come around already so that I can get preserving. Greengage and gewurzstraminer jam and the Italian mostarda particularly appeal. There are also many pages devoted to preserving meat and fish, which I hope to attempt next year – they require some planning and preparation, for which, sadly, I have not had an abundance of time of late. It is a book to read, then to plot and to plan. It is one that requires you to stock up on equipment and ingredients to cook with and savour every moment of. As Henry so rightly states in the introduction, and I paraphrase wildly, to start a day with a slice of toast and to spread it with a very special homemade jam, turns any old morning into something much, much better. Here, here.