4 December 2017

London Review of Cooks 2017

Posted by Gayle Lazda

Our bestselling food and drink book this year is from the indispensably brilliant Bee Wilson: This Is Not a Diet Book approaches healthy, balanced eating in a wonderfully sane and digestible way. Rejecting fad diets in favour of gradually changing our relationship with food, it’s advice you can actually imagine following, from someone who’s been there and knows what she’s talking about. This, together with her excellent (and now award-winning) Guardian long read on how we fell for ‘clean eating’, proves Bee Wilson to be one of the most important food writers going.

Our recipe book of the year will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone. Ever since attending a Peter Rabbit-themed supper club in a tiny Camberwell café a few years ago, we all knew Kate Young was destined for great things; The Little Library Cookbook does not disappoint. Bringing to life memorable meals from fiction – from Paddington’s marmalade to the Christmas dinner from A Christmas Carol – it’s the sort of cookbook you want to lounge around in bed reading, as much as cook from. Which isn’t to say it’s not also genuinely useful: a lesser book would’ve let its theme take over, but Kate is too good a cook for that. The recipes are well tested and easy to follow, and I have no doubt many of them are going to become firm fixtures in my culinary repertoire. Tl;dr: it’s great, buy a copy for everyone you know.

International cuisine of the year goes to Georgia. (The country, not the US state.) If you don’t know anything about Caucasian cuisine, I suggest you get your salivary glands buzzing with our pal Barney’s khachapuri primer, and then buy yourself any of the not one, not two, but THREE mouth-wateringly beautiful new Georgian cookbooks released this year: Tasting Georgia by Carla Capalbo, Kaukasis by Olia Hercules and Supra by Tiko Tuskadze. If I had to pick a favourite, I’d probably go for Supra, if only because Little Georgia, Tiko’s Islington restaurant, provided us with such delicious food for our Late Shopping evening back in September, and I’m nothing if not easily bribable.

Reissue of the year has to go to Daunt Books’ extremely welcome new edition of M.F.K. Fisher’s The Gastronomical Me. Her glorious prose – the finest in America, according to W.H. Auden – has been unfathomably neglected this side of the Atlantic, so it’s a real treat to have such a handsome edition available again.

Finally, if it’s a year in which Nigel Slater published a book, you can guarantee it’s also a year in which I’m going to put a Nigel Slater book in my end-of-year round up. And this year it’s a real treat: Mr. Adds-A-Pint-Of-Cream-To-Everything has written an entire book about the most indulgent time in the culinary calendar. The Christmas Chronicles is basically an extended Kitchen Diaries focussed just on the coldest months of the year; it’s utterly luxurious, as you would expect. My particular highlight: a pancetta and Cumberland sausage pig-in-blanket. We are blessed to have Nigel in our midst.