Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The hoarder

I love cookbooks.

I've got a few mainstream celebrity chef books. Particular favourites are Feast by Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater's appetite, the first Hairy Bikers' cookbook, and Jamie Oliver's Italy.

But I also love my books that cover particular geographic areas. There are few more enjoyable ways to find out about a foreign land than eating its food. I've got Indian, Thai, Polish, Hungarian, North American, Moroccan, English, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, a couple of pan-African cookbooks and books that cover the Balkans, South African, Scottish, Irish, Mexican and Spanish. And Georgian, French, and Belgian.

Just listing them makes me realise how many places I'd like to cover but don't already; Korea, Jamaica, Scandinavia, West Africa, Serbia, Mozambique, New Zealand and Australia (although, oddly, the only Australian dish I can think of is the pie floater!). 

I also covet books on specific ingredients and techniques. I've got books covering mince, slow cookers, canapes, pasta, baking and chicken. But I can easily persuade myself that I need books on sausage making, barbecues, potatoes, fish and, well, just about anything else.

My absolute favourite for looking at is Tito's Cookbook. I got it in Belgrade, at Tito's Mausoleum. It's fascinating, with photos of Tito meeting celebrities and world leaders- people you'd want to have dinner with, like JFK, Elizabeth Taylor, as well as those who you definitely wouldn't, like Saddam Hussein and Ceaucescu -, as well as the menu that they ate and selected recipes to try. Okay, it's maybe not the best actual cookbook in the collection, but it's a tiny glimpse into a fascinating life.

Apart from a few select titles, I'm moving the rest of my library to Kindle. But I doubt I'll ever let go of my cookery book collection. I love the photos - but there's also practical benefits too. I don't think Kindles and kitchens mix very well. My books can cope with a little bit of flour and sauce in a way that my Kindle probably can't.

Now the Boy is a little bit bigger, I'm trying to spend some time actually cooking recipes from the books, rather than just reading. I used to cook loads and lost the urge during early pregnancy, and never regained it until now. We've had  jerk chicken, salmon curry, empire biscuits, chilli, a tomato and rice bake, halloumi and beetroot, feta, mint and pea tart and sweet and sour chicken.

It's all good (well, the jerk chicken and rice and beans meal wasn't the best, and gave me horrendous oniony farts. But it was worth trying, anyway). Tomorrow we are having a poached salmon salad.

I sometimes think my husband would prefer mince and potatoes though, and is too polite to say!

What are you cooking today


  1. Today I forgot to go to the supermarket, and found some lamb steaks in the freezer. They're thawing now. I may however resort to pizza. They deliver! Last night however was boeuf bourgignon, and the night before a Thai basil chicken stir-fry.

    I would love to browse your recipe book collection. I collect recipes, and have a subscription to Cuisine magazine (a wonderful NZ magazine - you can get the recipes on-line, so have a look) which provides me with endless options to try.

    Tito's cookbook though? I have to see that. I wrote an essay on Tito when doing my Master's. I can't imagine what the recipes were like! Or what possessed them to write a Tito's cookbook. Do you think there's an Eisenhower cookbook, or Hirohito cookbook, or Mandela or Clinton or Gorbachev cookbook? That could be a whole new collection!

    1. I'm definitely going to have a look at Cuisine now! There's also a South African equivalent, but the name of it escapes me at the moment. The Thai basil stir fry sounds fab.

      On Tito, the book is pretty hard to get hold of. Used copies are occasionally available on the US Amazon site though. It's written from notes made by Tito's personal chemist (although I'm guessing that "food tester" might be a better translation. I'll do a post on the book and Tito later.

      A world leaders cookbook series would be ace. My Mum once cooked a recipe for samp and beans that was meant to be Mandela's favourite thing to eat and it was absolutely horrible though. But it might have been her cooking.

  2. I love baking and well, I guess cooking too. :D I have a small collection of cookbooks, but I do tend to find more now and then. When I moved to Finland, I started making my own cookbook with tried and true recipes. You know the ones that have been passed down or on or the ones you find, try and love? Yeah, those ones make it into my little book. I have some of the yummiest recipes in there and fall back on them quite often.

    For the last 5 or so years, I started using "make at least one new recipe" for my new year's resolution. It was such an easy and fun resolution to complete each year. Hehehe

    As for yesterday, I made hotdog soup (that always sounds so gross in English, maybe frankfurter is better?) and semolina (cream of wheat) chocolate pudding. Yum!

    1. I keep meaning to do what you do and collect recipes more systematically but I never quite manage!

      Is the hotdog soup the one with a lentilly base and sliced sausages in it? I've come across it in a Hungarian cookbook, it's apparently good for hangovers if it's the same one. I want to have a go with making something with semolina but it's always been one of those ingredients that I find a bit intimidating for some reason - mainly because here it has a somewhat grim association with school dinners!