Reading Maze For Book Reviews

Reading for the Young & Old

More Kinfolk

Wow, this is probably the first time I have written two posts on the same subject, and that is all the more interesting given that the subject in question isn’t even a book, it’s a periodical, a magazine.

Those who share my love of texture are likely to be hooked, just as I was that afternoon a few weeks ago in Edinburgh, as soon as they touch the cover. The over weight, folded card cover is the perfect silk.

The three editions I have managed to track down so far each have simple, yet intriguing covers.

It has changed its simple strap line from “A guide for small gatheringsâ€� to “Discovering new things to make, eat and doâ€�. I’m a little disappointed by this, it doesn’t feel as elegant, but I suspect that even among the attentive types buying Kinfolk, the change will be missed.

Inside the heavy pages are printed with care onto top quality uncoated stock, it must cost a lot, its almost a silk inside too.

The imagery is immediately identifiable as their style, despite being from many photographers, and something amazing has just occurred to me – there are no adverts, none whatsoever! How brave is that?

Kinfolk vol 6 - my first!

The writing makes me yearn for my college days and the chance to learn again to write university essays that sparkle, rather than merely delivering the required information. In fact that desire is so strong sometimes it makes me want to go back and start again, even at my age.

The only drawback so far is that I can’t find a stockist nearby. I have bought one copy in Edinburgh, followed by one on Manchester’s Paperchase, and another in a cool place that I can’t remember the name of in Chester Street off London’s Brick Lane.

The subscription is over one hundred pounds a year, and even though the individual mag is £13, £25 a pop is stretching even for my love of books. I’m trying to talk my local Waterstones into stocking it.

River Cottage Veg Everyday

For the man who encouraged us to eat our meat from end to end leaving no trace of waste, it seemed slightly incoherent that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall should take on a challenge to eat no meat for twelve months.

Like me, Hugh rejected the term vegetarianism, but instead described himself as simply not eating meat. That avoidance of an ‘ism’ is quite attractive.

Like all his books this is beautifully written prose that brings the food to life in your imagination and has you believing that you too could create the miracles he produces with just a few simple ingredients. This isn’t challenging cooking and with a few basic skills you should be able to manage most of what he proposes.

The book has lovely food illustration, supplemented with sweet line drawings that seem a little overly twee for the carnivore king, but nonetheless he puts forward a good strong case not for cutting out meat, but for eating less of it. I’m certainly comfortable with that notion and I am trying to work through the book, at least attempting 50% of the suggestions. If I manage that I’ll have got a lot further than most of the other cook books I’ve bought with similar intentions.

Best bits? For me that’s probably his speedy salads that encourage you to throw in many lightly cooked greens and maybe some fruits too for their natural freshness.


Come read and then dine with me

Sometimes television success does not transfer to other media as the immediacy of the product is lost. So how good are the cookbooks spawned from the hit Channel 4 show ‘Come Dine with Me’?

The programme itself was something of a slow burner, starting out as a low-budget daytime fodder which steadily gained larger and larger audiences mainly due to its ‘fly-on-the-wall’ voyeuristic nature, the genuinely amusing voice-over quips and comments from the excellent Dave Lamb and of course the completely bizarre and entertaining way the members of the public who take part in each episode behave.

As the audience watches, they can all identify with the characters living it up in their own and each other’s homes and showing what they’re really like once the forced initial formality has worn off and the wine kicks in.

Taking a slice of the action is David Sayer’s book ‘Come Dine with Me – Special Occasions’. This colourful and well-illustrated foodie book is much more than just a collection of recipes though, as there is advice about holding your own CDWM week with your friends (this craze to copy the programme is now sweeping the nation and its easy to see why) plus comments from people who have appeared on the show and cooked some of the dishes that are featured.

The recipes are tailored towards a dinner party as well as special events such as Christmas and Valentines Day and range from simple to complicate so readers can have a choice of dish to match their gastronomic ability.

Seasonality of ingredients is taken into account too, with some nice suggestions for ways with fresh summer produce.  Most of the cuisines of the world are represented on some level, with Italian pasta dishes and stir fries being very popular amongst the contestants of the TV show.