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Category: Cookery Books
There’s no nonsense about Judith Tabron. Starting in the restaurant industry as a 16-year-old apprentice, she worked her way up to become the co-owner of Soul, an acclaimed, successful bar and bistro situated at the Viaduct Harbour in Auckland. On stage at last year’s Savour New Zealand – she co-presented Greg Malouf‘s class on Middle Eastern Magic – her straight talking, take-no-prisoners attitude was very refreshing. She is, as she says herself, a leader rather than a follower, and her interest in new trends and different cuisines came through strongly at the symposium as it does in this, her first cookbook.
It’s the colour that catches your eye first. The bold pink and red cover of Tessa Kiros’ Apples for Jam is immediately distinctive, particularly with that eye-catching photo of a pair of red, well-worn children’s shoes. And colour is hugely important in this book as Tessa and her colour-coded recipes explore the spectrum of childhood through chapters labelled gold and monochrome, pink, yellow and red.
This is the perfect book for any foodie who’s ever spent hours puzzling over unfamiliar ingredients in their local delicatessen or ethnic food shop. Glynn Christian, originally from New Zealand, has been a food writer and broadcaster in England for many years, and as a result, has a rare international perspective. His breadth of experience also includes setting up the legendary Mr Christian’s Delicatessen in London’s Notting Hill in the 1970s.
Cookbook sections in secondhand bookshops can be a little hit or miss. There’s always a pile of microwave cookbooks – no one, for some reason wants to hang onto these dodgy and dated texts – a scattering of horrible diet books and often lots of ancient Family Circle publications, with their “triple-tested in the test kitchens” claim, but, rarely something that you actually want to cook from, let alone buy. Still, I live in hope, so a recent trip to Athlone had to include a browse in the local secondhand bookshop (I still haven’t discovered its name) which turned out to be a most amazing example of its kind.
In London there is a wonderful shop called Books for Cooks. A bookshop, filled with – what else – cookbooks, it is situated at 4 Blenheim Crescent in Notting Hill and is the kind of place that Sunday supplements wax lyrical about. As does anyone who visits the shop. It is small, not so very wide, and has bookshelves from floor to ceiling, crammed with hundreds upon hundreds books of amazing dishes, foods, ingredients, people. There is a cosy, albeit battered, couch in the middle of the floor, right between a piled-high table and a low shelf – just the place to sit and leaf through one of the many books that will take you on a journey to far off lands or reveal more about your own culinary surroundings. All this, and I haven’t yet got to the best bit.
One of the big advantages of being settled back in Dublin, with book shelves once again, is having all my old cookbooks to pore over and rediscover. Although I did manage to build up a fair collection in New Zealand, it couldn’t really compare to my beloved older stacks of books by Nigel Slater, Darina Allen, Tamasin Day-Lewis, Nigella Lawson and my ancient copies of the Paula Daly-written McDonnell’s Cook Books. The first and second books in this series, bought from saving up the tokens on Stork Margarine packets, were two of the first cookbooks owned by my mother.
As charity cookbooks go, Real Food for Real People is a real gem. The book is part of a fundraising drive for Moneystown National School’s building fund and was produced and published by the Parents’ Committee in this County Wicklow village. But, even though Real Food for Real People was evidentially done on a shoestring, the design quality still shines out. Illustrated mainly with children’s drawings and photos, and scattered with quotations from, amongst others, Shakespeare and Lenin, it is a simple and well laid-out book.