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tagesmann

Nominations for the 1st 2014 BGO Book Group Read

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I am kicking off two BGO Book Group Reads today. They will start concurrently but it will take longer to decide on the second read...

 

Please can we have your nominations for the First BGO Book Group read of 2014?

 

The subject of this read is Cookery.

 

But what you choose to nominate is up to you. You might choose to recommend a favourite cookery book (or one you want to try) from which readers could try recipes and discuss them. Or you might want to recommend a book that is about cookery in a more abstract sense. Or perhaps a biography about a chef.

 

Please post your nominations here. It is always a good idea to give a reason for your nomination and this time and it is probably necessary to suggest the context for the read . You don't need to post much, a couple of lines will do.

 

If you like a nomination please second it.

 

All nominations that are seconded will go forward to a vote.

 

If you are new to BGO or have not been involved in a BGO read before, please see this thread  http://www.bookgroup...-bgo-bookgroup/ for some background.

 

And if you have any questions please post them.    

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I presume we are not thinking of a book of recipes, but something with some reading matter in it?

 

I have been collecting cookbooks for years, and have had a browse through my shelves for something I could recommend.

Unfortunately, although there are plenty that might fit the bill, most cookbooks go out-of-print very quickly - unless they are by "Celebrity Chefs', in which case they cost an arm and a leg. Most of mine are pretty old.

After the performance I had trying to borrow one of Yotam Ottolenghi's books (an older one, not even Jerusalem) I won't bother trying there again.

 

I would recommend Claudia Rodin's Mediterranean Cookery, published in 1987 by BBC Books, but of course it seems to be out of print, although Amazon.co.uk have a couple of hardbacks available at £49.95.

They do however, have 26 'used' pb copies listed - the first 11 costing only  £0.01, plus postage

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Yes, I think this is harder that we realised. Most of my favourites are probably well out of print as well, or too expensive to acquire for a book group read.

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I'm also having trouble with this one. I too used to collect cookery books from around the world but a couple of years ago decided to 'down-size' and now only keep those that are special to me or are useful. 

 

Of those, the one I treasure the most is The Cookery Year which is a Reader's Digest publication.  I am horrified to see on Amazon that to buy a new copy would cost £97!!! But this book covers everything for the beginner (as I was when it was given to me over 40 years ago) up to and including some very fancy cooking indeed.

 

An alternative that might stimulate some discussion is The Food Bible by Judith Wills. This is available on Amazon at a cost of just over £6 - much more reasonable.  I see there is also a food bible for children.  Not sure whether that means for children to learn to cook, for adults to learn about good food for children or what, thought I'm sure it doesn't mean cooking children!!

 

I also used to have a kind of cookery book on The Hay Diet, which I found extremely interesting.  That might be worth a look at. 

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As someone who rarely cooks, I have a question: do people read cookery books from cover to cover or simply dip into them for recipes?

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Personally - I have never read a cookery book from cover to cover.  However, when I have acquired a new cookery book I have been known to 'walk' through it and 'sample' the recipes visually.  For me this is a way of filing away ideas for future meals or treats, especially for my vegetarian son, whom I like to surprise occasionally with something different.  But generally speaking I think a cookery book is something I dip into from time to time. 

 

The only difference is if you have something that's not just recipes but a way of eating or related to food generally, which is why I mentioned The Food Bible and The Hay Diet.  I'm really interested to see what other people suggest for this one.

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As someone who rarely cooks, I have a question: do people read cookery books from cover to cover or simply dip into them for recipes?

Depends on the book/writer.

 

I've had one book which made fascinating reading, with lots of home-spun philosophy,  pioneer-type hints on all aspects of self-sufficiency and money-saving recipes - but huge and not exactly suitable for our purpose. Also probably out of print.

 

I will read paragraphs, or even whole chapters, on specific ingredients, or the location if it's a book on regional food - but mostly I buy a book for the recipes and skip the padding.

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I thought this might be a challenge.

 

Cookery books tend to be expensive unless they are new and being heavily discounted. They also go out of print fairly quickly. I guess so that the publisher can combine existing recipes into something that looks like a new book.

 

It will be interesting to see if this read works...

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I also rarely cook, so I didn't plan on participating as I didn't think cookbooks would make for an interesting discussion (for me). But after reading the posts, I'm wondering if people might want to change the topic more generally to food rather than cookbooks. There are some books out there that I've heard are wonderful. For example, The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. He's written several other books that sound interesting as well. Also, I've been interested in reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Just a thought!

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I don't mind changing the theme. The reason I specified cookery rather than food was because food is so much wider in scope than  cookery. However...

 

I second The Omnivore's Dilemma.  :)

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Healing Foods, by Miriam Polunin is an interesting book. It is very informative about the different foodstuffs that support various bodily functions.

From the Amazon review

 

 Despite the title, Healing Foods is less about healing than prevention and the role that healthy foods as part of a well-balanced diet can play in fighting off disease and generally mitigating the wears and tears of modern existence. A brisk and informative introduction deals with the principles of such a diet; it's followed by the food profiles and a section examining in detail their benefits to the body and its systems. Finally a really delectable selection of recipes puts it all in context. Food, after all, must be about pleasure as well as health and Healing Foods vindicates itself here. The Dorling Kindersley illustrative style, which involves picturing every single foodstuff mentioned, pays occasionally curious dividends, such as the list of healthy starches accompanied by helpful photographs of a couple of twists of pasta, a potato and a slice of bread. An appetising bowl of porridge makes more than one appearance

My copy is pretty old, but I still refer to it regularly. Plenty available 'used' on both Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com for a penny plus postage

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Healing Foods sound interesting so I would be interested in that so will second that.

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Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson was a great read, much more interesting than I thought it would be.  I reviewed it under "Homelife & Lifestyle" (haven't figured out how to link yet). From my review: 

 

"Wilson's book covers the history of tools used in preparing and eating food.  It's an engaging combination of history, science, and anthropology.

 

One example:  the French call (or at least called) the English "Les Rosbifs" because of the wonderful spit-roasted beef.  Why was that unique to the English?  Because they had plenty of grass for grazing and dense woods for making fire.  "The English could afford to cook entire beasts beside the heat of a fierce fire, throwing on as many logs as it took, until the meat was done to perfection.  In the short run, this was a lavish way to eat; a delicious way....In the long run, it almost certainly limited the nation's cooking skills. Necessity is the mother of invention, and more restricted amounts of firewood might have forced the English into a more creative and varied cuisine."  [No insult to English food intended by me--we ate very well the last time we were there, in 2002.]"

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Plenty available 'used' on both Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com for a penny plus postage

 

Going by the state of my cookery book - yes I only have one (Fuss Free Dinners) - I cringe at the thought of buying a 'used' copy. :yikes:

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I asked my earlier question because I know Lady L, who has  a considerable cookbook collection, does not read cover to cover, but praises Nigel Slater's Toast highly and said this reads more like a memoir about developing a love of food. Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential might gall into the same camp as a book about food, rather than a cookbook  

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Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson

Wilson? Or Nilson?

I have been using the Pears Family Cookbook by Bee Nilson since 1964 - nine years before I even had my own kitchen!

As a complete novice cook I loved the alphabetical layout, the basic recipes and the illustrations  - such as meat carcasses showing what cut came from where. I still sometimes use it to check cooking temperatures & times for joints I don't cook often.

Not much in the way of interesting text, though, so not really of use here. Too pricey, too, even 'used'

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Lady L, who has  a considerable cookbook collection, does not read cover to cover, but praises Nigel Slater's Toast highly and said this reads more like a memoir about developing a love of food.

Toast was my first thought.

I have read it, but think of it mainly as a  memoir Slater's childhood - remembered through the fmeals he was fed- especially as the food of his childhood was the food of my teens, when I was first starting to cook.

However, I don't remember that it had recipes, so thought it might be ineligible for our purpose

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No it's Wilson, but isn't that a huge coincidence?  They can't be the same person--the Consider the Fork author was born in 1974.

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If you want a food encyclopaedia with some occasional recipes, you could try Larousse Gastronomique. 

 

Right now, my staple recipe books are: Jerusalem; Bill's Basics; Bill's Everyday Asian; and Tasting India. I also pick up many recipes from www.taste.com.au. I would happily do a recipe book as a group read but agree that price could be an issue. Also, there's such a gulf in terms of technique and time commitment between, on the one hand, Nigella's guide to assembling pre-prepared food on a plate and some of the elaborate celebrity cookbooks. 

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I like Nigel Slater's Appetite. He writes about cooking in a way that makes me want to get into the kitchen. He gives recipes and variations. It is, at the moment, £13.40 in paperback on Amazon. But for people who cook lots and have a good repertoire, it is probably too basic.

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I don't think I'll be participating in this particular book read as I think the less time I spend in the kitchen the less I will be thinking about food.  Neither one of us is sylph like and we could do with eating less rather than trying recipes which look really tantalizing.  I like the idea of Healing Foods and may just try to get a copy of that and maybe that will provide a guide to healthier eating habits - we do eat lots of salads but somehow salads in extremely cold weather aren't very appealing.  I bake but don't do much in the way of fancy meals and as we don't entertain any more I don't have any call to attempt fancy cooking.

Edited by momac

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I may not join in with this book read , but do appreciate how difficult it is to choose a suitable book.

 

When  I received this particular book and  started to flip through I was still reading two hours later. I am very fond of it and offer it as a suggestion you may enjoy, not a nomination.
 
The Sweet Life In Paris by David Lebovitz
 
The recipes themselves are incidental to the story as David has written separate recipe books on his specialities as a pastry chef and chocolatier. The book is funny, interesting and informative; he is known to be a friendly helpful professional in the America cookery world and unfailingly enthusiastic about food and all to do with it. Some of you are lucky enough to be able to visit Paris comparatively easily and there is information on where to find food, places  or other commodities mentioned at the back of the book.  Here is the publisher's summary: -

Like so many others, David Lebovitz dreamed about living in Paris ever since he first visited the city in the 1980s. Finally, after a nearly two-decade career as a pastry chef and cookbook author, he moved to Paris to start a new life. Having crammed all his worldly belongings into three suitcases, he arrived, hopes high, at his new apartment in the lively Bastille neighbourhood.

 

But he soon discovered it's a different world en France.

From learning the ironclad rules of social conduct to the mysteries of men's footwear, from shopkeepers who work so hard not to sell you anything to the etiquette of working the right way around the cheese plate, here is David's story of how he came to fall in love with—and even understand—this glorious, yet sometimes maddening, city.

When did he realize he had morphed into un vrai parisien? It might have been when he found himself considering a purchase of men's dress socks with cartoon characters on them. Or perhaps the time he went to a bank with 135 euros in hand to make a 134-euro payment, was told the bank had no change that day, and thought it was completely normal. Or when he found himself dressing up to take out the garbage because he had come to accept that in Paris appearances and image mean everything.

The more than fifty original recipes, for dishes both savoury and sweet, such as Pork Loin with Brown Sugar–Bourbon Glaze, Braised Turkey in Beaujolais Nouveau with Prunes, Bacon and Bleu Cheese Cake, Chocolate-Coconut Marshmallows, Chocolate Spice Bread, Lemon-Glazed Madeleines, and Mocha–Crème Fraîche Cake, will have readers running to the kitchen once they stop laughing.

Edited by grasshopper

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I was just thinking about the novel Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, which I read fifteen or so years ago , and wondered what other fiction with recipes there might be - and if they might be worth considering. ;):naughty::P

Cooking With Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson is one; an unusual memoir / novel, eccentric and witty. 

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