Jo, fellow Guardian- AND list-lover, emailed me this morning with a link to The Observer Food Monthly's 50 best cookbooks list. Thank you. I love these sort of things, and the top 10 is, I think, interesting.
There's very little Elizabeth David on the list, which I find curious given it has such a very british bent to it and only one (really?) Nigel Slater. Kitchen Diaries is, for me, the best food book ever published - beautiful words; beautiful to hold; beautiful, beautiful photographs by Jonathan Lovekin printed on (beautiful) matt paper. Farking gorgeous. Easily my number one.
Pleased to see Madhur Jaffrey make an appearance. Her Eastern Vegetarian Cooking is one of the most useful books I own. I love the Book of Jewish Food (# 3) by Claudia Roden because she offers an eloquent, sephardic, way into understanding the culture of the blokes around me, and her shakshouka is why I'll be planting lots of peppers and tomatoes in the next garden.
Deborah Madison's 'Greens' is there, but Local Flavors is, I reckon, better. The Savory Way has my all-time favourite dish of zucchini cooked with cloves, crushed basil leaves and fresh, early-summer organic cream. Simmered with new garlic and super fresh corn. Jesus, it's early summer on a plate, that dish.
Madison is the sexiest seasonal eating gets, especially if you have a garden. Olney, at # 1, means that we are living in an age of vegetable-loving and that's a very good thing in my opinion.
I love peasant food and always have.
I remember unpacking Fushia Dunlop's Sichuan Cooking in the shop and thinking, this is a keeper. Too much pork for us, but it's still a keeper. Australian David Thompson's book Thai Food came in at # 7 and is, I think, a glaring omission from my own shelf but again, I wonder how useful it is to someone who cooks neither pork or shellfish? David Tanis - a true artist - deserves to be there, but as much for the stunning photographs by Christopher Hirschimer as Tanis' lovely words.
Next on my list? An original (g'ah) 1965 copy of Len Deighton's Action Cook Book is something I want very, very badly now, and that's what a good list offers, you see. My current reading includes Kingsley Amis' Everyday Drinking which I am enjoying immensely. What are you enjoying?