Good Food Blog
Breaking the cookbook habitPosted at 12:20PM, 04 November 2008 by Andy Lynes - Food writer
A few years ago, I braved the crowds at Ikea to buy what I fondly imagined would be the ultimate solution to the serious storage problem that my ever growing pile of cookbooks had become. Puzzling for hours over the hieroglyphics jokingly titled 'assembly instructions' was a small price to pay for having a six foot high, glass-doored cabinet in which to show off my collection in all its alphabetised glory.
Fast forward to November 2008 and I'm standing in my conservatory amongst heaps of glossy and expensive culinary tomes, wondering where it all went wrong. As I surveyed the teetering towers that threatened to bury me, I realised that my real problem wasn't storage space. It was something altogether more sinister; something that even a dozen trips to a furniture warehouse on the outskirts of London couldn't solve.
I had a chronic cookbook habit and I needed help.
Now I think about it, I can't recall the last time I passed a bookshop in the hours of daylight without stepping in to browse the food and drink section. And what recommendations 'inspired by my shopping trends' do I see when I visit Amazon.co.uk for a little sip and click retail therapy, but Nigella's Christmas and What to Eat Now by Val Warner.
Once I've flicked through the books over a nice cup of tea on the sofa, I'm unlikely ever to refer to them again
The expense and clutter is bad enough, but even worse is the terrible realisation that, once I've flicked through the books over a nice cup of tea on the sofa, I'm unlikely ever to refer to them again.
There are honorable exceptions to the rule; Everyday and Holiday by the sainted Bill Granger are well thumbed sources of quick supper inspiration, and I'll always turn to Delia for her unimpeachable Yorkshire pudding recipe .
But I can count the number of recipes I've cooked from The French Laundry by Thomas Keller on the fingers of one, um, finger. And as for Gordon Ramsay Three Star Chef, sorry Gordon it's a duck, and I don't mean one served with honey glazed onions and Madeira Sauce.
The internet will never replace that wonderful new book smell or the pleasure of browsing a beautifully designed volume. But it does such a good job of keeping me supplied with new and interesting recipes that from now on, I'm keeping my book habit to a minimum.
Just the new Richard Corrigan will do, and the latest Mark Hix of course. And have you seen that Fat Duck book? It's amazing...