disclaimer: i don’t really use cookbooks. this being because i don’t really use recipes. not out of any particular pride or confidence in my ability to make do when left to my own devices, but i guess due to some long-nurtured disrespectful inattentiveness and inborn negligence. occasionally i -try- to follow recipes, but inevitably i end up being too lazy to dig through a drawer to find a tablespoon (should i have been so responsible as to buy or find one on the ground in the first place), or, not being in the habit of following recipes, end up not having half the ingredients anyway.
i am, however, a -fan- of cookbooks (and magazines), and peruse them avidly, providing they have colourful and well-engineered photos, or bits of culinary miscellany, this more in the hopes of sparking some lately unstimulated nerve clump in my weary worthless brain or just to find another reason why i’d feel better about myself if i owned a mandolin.
as a result, probably no one should care that i think that Tana Ramsey’s latest book Home Made is annoying and boring. not to say bad, per se, but it just so happened to feature prominently two of my least favourite tendencies of the cookbook world.
the first being recipes that are not really recipes, but actually just a thing and another thing, the “recipe” dimension of which can’t help but be no more involved than “cook thing A, and possibly thing B, and then eat. together. possibly on top of one another. add salt and pepper.” the two most immediate and glaring of which in this case being Buttered Sweetcorn Niblets with Fresh Marjoram Leaves (comprised of: a tin of corn niblets, butter, marjoram leaves, salt & pepper), and Asparagus with Pecorino (you can probably figure that one out). i mean, i don’t know, both those things are more than likely delicious, i take no umbrage on that front, but seriously people, if you need a recipe to tell you to eat a thing and another thing (unless it’s some heretofore unimagined marriage of flavours or like, dulse and dark chocolate), then you should probably be cast into the Forbidden Zone and left to eat astronaut ice cream until the sun expires. no?
granted, there are limits to my (admittedly overcaustic) condemnation, for example, when such a simplicity is described as a “tip” or a “hint,” as opposed to a recipe, or when featured as on component of a larger menu (thereby lent meaning by virtue of its context), as for example in the Donna Hay Instant Entertaining book i was leafing through directly afterwards. perhaps what actually riles me is that the inclusion of recipes like this implies that the author honestly didn’t have anything better to put in? it suggests (although not definitively) a certain paucity of imagination, maybe?
also i am clearly an asshole and curmudgeon.
the second of my petty trifles is the predominance of photos of the author over actual photos of the food. i mean, the cult of culinary celebrity is what it is, don’t hate the player, hate the game, i get it. i even appreciate it sometimes. but a) i don’t give a shit about your dumb kids, b) i didn’t pick up this book to learn how to open the fridge or press a button on a blender. (note: i was looking through a Jamie Oliver book yesterday, who is equally guilty of this, but it didn’t annoy me nearly so much, so i guess i am both petty and capricious)
give me Waitrose Food Illustrated or give me death?