Nothing says ‘relaxation’ to me quite like reading a good cookery book.
I tend not to like the big glossy art books with young good looking chefs. I don’t need photographs but appreciate little line diagrams showing meat cuts or how to fold a pastry a certain way. Small Penguin paperbacks like this one by Elizabeth David are good for reading in bed unlike Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s books which are too heavy. Hugh doesn’t really give much information about recipes either. I find they’re great for cooking with in the kitchen but not good for bed time reading. My favourite recipe book (European Peasant Cooking by Elizabeth Luard) would be a good read in bed if not for being bulky.
Cookery fascinates me. Not fancy pants cooking just things like tomato sauce and pasta. How can I get the tastiest tomato and pasta sauce? How do I make the tastiest stew?
Perhaps it’s like a crossroads where disparate parts of my life meet and hang out and things make a bit more sense?
It’s like the chemistry I studied at university. Following a recipe reminds me of those ill fated Friday afternoon organic chemistry practicals in the Kier Buiding.
It’s like practical art. You create something useful and beautiful, something that is needed (or kneaded). It’s sort of transient daily bread art.
It’s a chance to nurture creation. You could choose ingredients that have been grown by farmers who treated animals with dignity. You can buy local. You can stop supporting companies that degrade communities by buying your food from people who are trying to nurture communities.
You can learn about history. Where did the word ‘scouser’ come from? Why did monk brew beer?
I’d love the idea of reading fiction and novels and discussing it with people. Yet the reality is that I don’t think I’m prepared to sit through hundreds and hundreds of pages. Dipping in and out of books suits me more so I gravitate toward poems and cookery books. There is no commitment to read each page in order. Open a recipe book up at page 210 and read if you want. Then page 34. You could do that with novels if you wanted but it won’t be as much fun.