In these days of lockdown, I’ve noticed a viral campaign going around on Facebook called the Album Cover Challenge, 10 covers in 10 days. Anyway, I thought I’d do something similar but cookery related, so my next ten posts will feature the cookery books that have influenced what’s been going on in my kitchen over the past 40 years. Anyone who has been to my home and seen the vast array of cookbooks I have in my library will appreciate that it was tricky to pick the most influential ten! So, here’s ‘My life in ten cookbooks’…
Day 1/10: The St Michael All Colour Cookery Book by Jeni Wright.
This is the very first cookery book I possessed. I think my Mum bought it for me for Christmas in 1980 when I was a student, interested in cookery but not particularly skilled! For those of you too young to remember, St Michael was Marks and Spencer’s brand name for everything in the store and in true M&S style it explains with real simplicity how to cook everyday classics from a roast dinner to lemon meringue pie. It was also quite posh too, there were a lot of French classic recipes like celeriac remoulade which I make regularly now but then it was well nigh impossible to buy celeriac anywhere. I’m not even sure I knew what it was back then!
By modern standards, where every book is a work of art and every recipe is accompanied by some lyrical intro, the photography looks so garish and dated but at the time it was quite something to have a colour photograph of every dish so that you knew what the finished product was meant to look like. There are a few vomit-inducing recipes in it like the one for liver with orange but I still make the Pork Alsacienne and roast loin of pork with garlic today. Anyway, it became a well-thumbed favourite, inspired me to be more adventurous and taught me a lot about cookery in the days when there were few alternatives.