As the year comes to an end we all start to make lists. In the world of cooking the lists of course focus on cookery books, restaurants and food experiences. Sadly enough, I have hardlly bought any cookery books at all this year since the problem with living in a rented room in a shared house is that 1) you don't have that much space to begin with and 2) you know that you soon(ish) will be moving out and the more stuff you have the more work it will be...
However, lately I have been made aware of this great magazine called The Week (online at www.theweek.co.uk) where all the latest news, editorials, movie releases and so on are collected and presented in a very easy to digest format. Tufte would be proud of these people I think. Think of it as the Cliff Notes of news media, updated weekly. Just what I need.
Best part is I don't even subscribe. I have this kind friend who has a subscription, and monday mornings I go to her place, have a cuppa and a chat, and as I leave she gives me the latest issue. Brilliant start of the week, my friend B and The Week is. Offline P2P document sharing, how cool is that?
So anyway. Lists. In the issue I got this Monday The Week has collected nine of the best cookery books of 2005, as they have been presented by various magazines and web sites. I am not going to list them all, that would be like what, theft... But I will mention the two I found the most interesting and that I really would love to buy myself.
Top of the list, mine as well as The Week's, is The Silver Spoon by various contributors. This has been the best selling cookery book in Italy for the past 50 years, but it is not until now that it has been made available in English!
With the best of Italian regional cooking represented, this has been a traditional gift to newly married women. Very big (I like big books) with 1,250 pages and over 2,000 recipes this is quite a volume. Recipes are arranged by ingredients, a property of a cookery book that I certainly like!
Moving on in the list, the next book that caught my eye was Arabesque by Claudia Roden. Cover looks lovely, it really makes me want to dive in. Recipes are collected from Lebanon, Morocco and Turkey and according to the review this "is easily one of the most inspiring books of the year".
Sounds good. Real good.
Since I started cooking more, and reading a lot about cooking, I have found that there are more people than me in the world that actually read cookery books, from start to finish. Going over lists of ingredients, carefully studying series of photos, trying to sense in my mind what a certain combination of spices would taste like...
What I also really like is cookery books where the recipes are tied in to more or less a story, or the author's memories. That makes me a bit interested in a third book on the list, Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey.
Labelled as an "evocative memoir" the books is not only a collection of recipes based on the author's background from growing up in Delhi, they are all also linked to memories of dinners, lunches, weddings and picnics.
Promising. I like reading my recipes in context.