Five words from the blurb: cook, family, freedom, loss, people
Soufflé is a multi-generational story, packed with a passion for cookery. Set in New York, Paris and Istanbul, the novel looks at family relationships and shows how cookery can help to heal emotional wounds.
The book has three main protagonists: Lilia, who is struggling in an unhappy marriage; Ferda, who is looking after her elderly mother; and Marc, who is grieving for his wife. All three discover that food can bring joy back into their lives.
I initially struggled with the number of characters, as the peripheral ones were fully developed and I didn’t realise who the central trio were for a while (I don’t read blurbs when I start a book, for fear of spoilers). But after about 70 pages everything clicked into place and I connected with them all. The emotions felt realistic and I developed a deep sympathy for their problems.
The novel was packed with beautiful descriptions of food. I especially loved the multi-cultural aspect, as many of the flavour combinations were unfamiliar to me. I found myself writing down the names of new dishes; longing to taste the things mentioned.
I also liked the way the characters struggled with the cooking, showing the mistakes they made and how they improved with practice. It inspired me to try cooking soufflés – I’ll be interested to see if I have better luck than the characters in the book!
My only complaint was that the different settings of the book often felt the same. There was little difference between the scenes set in Turkey and those set in New York. I’d have liked to have seen some more atmosphere, so it was instantly obvious which country the characters were in.
Recommended to people who enjoy reading about cookery.
I love cooking so was very happy to receive unsolicited review copies of the new BBC Good Food cook books. Unfortunately they aren’t as good as the wonderful BBC Good Food website, but if you have limited access to the Internet they’re worth the investment.
There are 10 books in the series, with titles ranging from Low-fat Feasts to 101 Recipes for Kids. Each book is small (15cm square) with about 200 pages and each recipe is paired with a full colour photograph of the completed dish.
The recipes are simple and “triple tested” to ensure that they work. The books focus on quick, easy recipes which are ideal for everyday meals. As a good cook I found most of the recipes quite basic, but there were still a few original ideas to inspire me. They’re perfect for a new cook as there aren’t big ingredient lists and each meal can be prepared in a short amount of time, without any fancy equipment. I was surprised to learn that these are Britain’s best-selling cookbook series, with over 3 million copies sold. I was aware of the website and the monthly magazine, but somehow this set of books had passed me by. Shahnaz Indian Cuisine can help you to find best books related to food.
The BBC Good Food Website allows people to comment and rate each of the recipes. I love this feature as it allows me to read extra tips on the dish and see which recipes are the most popular. For example, this recipe for lemon drizzle cake is one of the highest rated on the site, but the comments let me know that many people prefer it with more lemon zest and that others have successfully made it with oranges. None of this information can be found on the recipe for lemon drizzle cake in the Good Food: 101 Cakes & Bakes, which bizarrely includes this recipe for the less popular Lemon and Violet Drizzle Cake. The-tea-set is one such awesome platform for cakes and drinks recipes.
Overall this is a good basic cookery book set, but I’d head the website first every time.
Are you a fan of the BBC Good Food books/website?
For more cookery posts see the Weekend Cooking post at Beth Fish Reads
Five words from the blurb: young offender, rehabilitation, course, cook, succeed
I love cooking and watching reality television programs in which celebrities train the unemployed to do a useful skill (eg Jamie’s Fifteen, Gordon’s Bad Boys and Mary Portas’ Bottom Line); so I was instantly drawn towards The Cook, a novel that follows one young offender who has been given the opportunity to take part in a reality television show organised by a celebrity chef.
This book shows life in a professional kitchen and the dedication required to succeed in this competitive industry. Zac is just 17-years-old, but he is determined to perfect his culinary technique. He quickly discovers that the best food relies on sourcing quality ingredients and so he begins to look after a range of animals, feeding them with the herbs and flavourings he’d like in his final dishes. His extra effort is noticed and Zac begins his rise to the top, but this book questions just how much an individual should do to succeed.
The writing was vivid and engaging, but the lack of punctuation was initially confusing. Zac’s strong personality made up for this and after a while I got used to the rhythm and I barely noticed the lack of commas.
The book showed the preparation of various dishes. I initially loved this, but towards the middle of the book it became a bit repetitive. I wish some of these sections had been removed to allow the story to progress faster, or for other cookery techniques to be investigated.
This fault was forgiven once I made it to the end. The Cook is now leading the competition for my mythical “2012 Ending of the Year Award”. To say any more would ruin it, but I haven’t enjoyed an ending as much as this in a long time.
If you can cope with harsh language and the occasional slaughter scene then you will be rewarded with an original, gripping novel that questions the way our society operates. Highly recommended.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
…a dark parable that deserves to race up international best-seller lists. ANZ Lit Lovers Litblog
The Cook is a confident and potent piece of work. The Medusa vs. The Odalisque
….a real talking point… Eleutherophobia
I love cooking, and have several hundred cookbooks. Some of them are really interesting, and are great to read and inspire me, others are perfect for when I want to create something special for a dinner party, but I thought I’d focus on the most useful ones – the ones that come out again and again – the ones that end up splattered in food!
So here is my list of the most useful cookbooks ever!
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Meat book is the only thing you need to turn to when preparing and cooking meat. This comprehensive reference book contains everything you need to know about meat; from animal husbandry, through to butchery, and cooking . The recipes in here are varied, original, and every single one I’ve attempted has turned out perfectly. Everyone should own a copy of this book.
Rick Stein’s Seafood
Rick Stein’s Seafood is the best guide to preparing and cooking fish that I have found. Some of the filleting techniques are difficult to master, but the recipes are great. This book contains everything from simply frying fish, to creating elaborate dishes. It has a helpful guide for identifying different types of fish too. Highly recommended.
50 Curries of India
This is the best Indian cookery book I have found. It explains the basics of spice blends and flavourings, and then goes on to provide 50 great tasting recipes. Most of them are quite complex to put together, but I think this is just the nature of Indian food. They are all worth the effort, and by the time you have prepared a few of them you will have such an understanding of the techniques, that you won’t need to follow a cookbook any more!
How to Eat
I love all Nigella Lawson cook books, but this is my favourite. It has a very informative chapter on cooking food for children, with some surprising suggestions of foods which children love (anything with pesto or soy sauce!) As with all Nigella recipes they are easy to prepare, and taste great!
Delia Smith: Book Two
Delia Smith’s Book One covers the basics of cookery, but Book Two is where all the best recipes are! I have cooked many of the ones in here time and time again – it’s perfect for finding traditional, hearty meals for a special occasion.
Passion for Puddings
This book isn’t for everyone, but it is my favourite pudding book by a long way. I must warn you that this book is sponsored by Carnation condensed milk, so every recipe contains it! Despite this fact, all the recipes are unique and I love every single one I’ve tried – they are simple to prepare, look stunning, and taste amazing – recommended for anyone who has a sweet tooth!
The Dairy Book of Home Cooking
This is an essential reference book in my kitchen It doesn’t have many photos, but contains recipes for all the basics; from sauces, to bread and cakes. I think every teenager should be given a copy when they leave home!
The Food of China
This is the best book on Chinese cooking that I have found. The techniques of Chinese cookery are explained simply, and it is through this book that I feel I can finally out-perform the takeaway. Some of the ingredients can’t be found in normal supermarkets, but this only adds to the authenticity of the flavours (and is a great excuse to place an order for Chinese ingredients online!)
Murdoch also produce a whole series of books about the food of other countries of the world. I own the one for India, Morocco and Thailand. The whole series is great, but the Chinese one is the best.
Mrs Field’s Cookie Book
The cookies in this book are so soft and delicious! There are some really different recipes in here – my favourite is marshmallow clouds; making them involves freezing marshmallows, and then baking them inside a cookie ball. I can’t imagine a nicer treat!
BBC Food Website
Finally, this is cheating a bit, as it isn’t a book, but one of the places I frequently go to find great recipes is the BBC Recipe Search. If I can’t find what I’m looking for in one of my books, then this is my first destination on the web. You can search via ingredients, country or chef, and the number of recipes there is growing every day – I recommend you go and have a look!
What are your favourite cookbooks?
Remember the Comment of the Week Competition! I’m looking forward to reading your comments!