I have a stash of recipe books that I have never opened and I don’t mind it, because I know there will be jewels in these books whenever I choose to take them off the shelf on which they reside, stroke their hardback cover and crack open the spine and smell that divine smell only a freshly printed, even if stored for a while, book gives off. Out of all the pleasures that I have in my life, my biggest pleasure is one of a brand new book. It comes about from being a council kid who was an avid reader, all of my books were second hand or from the library to which I trudged to, carrying heavy books on a Saturday morning, bringing back brand new treasures for me to curl up with on a Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. Brand new books are my most wicked of pleasures and I shall never give them up. Fortunately I probably have enough to last a year!
Do you remember when I attended the Food in Art talks at the Royal Academy of Art, which were fabulous, one of the talks mentioned https://atthetable.co.uk is a platform that explores and celebrates British food culture, and it’s fab. Next I joined the newsletter and they send me emails quite regularly and often its a list of recipe books, which for me is quite exciting. In April an email landed while I was feeling a bit flush, so I bought six out of the eight suggested books. They have been waiting patiently for me. I have been busy at the allotment and in the heat of the summer I’m quite minimalist in the kitchen. But the cool of autumn is creeping ever nearer and I am starting to feel refreshed and renewed, and am ready to enjoy both the results of our labours at the allotment and new recipes that will come from far and wide. Let us begin.
Midnight Chicken by Ella Risbridger has been keeping me company during my bedtime reading for the last week and I have to say I do love her way of writing. It feels genuine and passionate and raw and much later in the book one gets to realise why and it all becomes sad, but Ella, with strength from somewhere carries on with her book and I am so glad that she had such a strong support network around her, because this book is lovely. It is the sort of book that I would happily give to a student or young person that is still finding their way around a kitchen. It is Ella’s foray into her own education at learning to find her feet in the kitchen, but within that there are beautiful elements that illustrate oh so clearly that Ella has an excellent food memory and deep knowledge is already there that she is exploring and I for one can’t wait for her second book.
The other beautiful element of this book are that there are no photographs only illustrations. I love that. It really opens my mind to possibilities and I’m not just staring at a photograph of a plate of food. I did do Food in Art for ten weeks, so for me, this book is simply an extension of that course and the illustrator Elisa Cunningham has done a wonderful job of transferring Ella’s ideas into pictorial imagery. I will show you a few because I can’t not.
It simply makes me happy to read this book and I know we are going to have some fun with it. So my plan is to explore the recipes and share them with you for as long as I want to and then when the urge strikes I will crack open another one of my new recipe books that are waiting for their turn to shine.