Monday, 23 July 2007

Something is Going to Have to Go....

The new Chocolate Bible arrived this morning. And I have nowhere to put it. The shelves can take no more, and as it is, I can't find anywhere for Moro (2) that Jennie sent several weeks ago (splendid salads, an excellent recipe for roast Skate in a sherry-flavoured Buerre Blanc, and this evening's Lamb roast with Honey and Rosemary) as a thank-you after the recent Masterchef Weekend (completely unnecessary, JB, but what a fantastic addition to the collection!) and Richard Olney's Simple French Food, both of which - in the absence of a home for them in the bookcase - are already lodging uncomfortably on top of the jars of bottled cherries and pineapple-in-rum that line the kitchen windowsill!

It isn't something I would normally do, but the fact prompted me to make an inventory, with not entirely surprising results: 74 recipe books in the kitchen, a further modest nine in the book-stack behind my desk, and 44 or so scattered amongst the bookcases in the hall. Not a challenging prospect to find a good twenty or so for disposal, you'd think! I - naively - did, at any rate......until it came to the question of exactly which ones should go. Years ago, Nico Ladenis once said that the possession of a recipe book was justified if you found only one new recipe within its pages that subsequently made it into your repertoire....Well, on that basis, the process starts to become very difficult indeed! Elizabeth? Jane? Julia? No.....Michel? Bruno? Raymond? .......No. Willan? Stewart? (Don't sneer - despite the bad press and the questionable presentation, Martha is in fact very good!) Carrier? .....Nope. Hmmm. When it came down to it, all I could really come up with were a Nigel Slater, two Simon Hopkinsons, something by somebody called Donna Hay (it must have been a present) and Sonia Stevenson's not terrifically good book on sauces. Radical, it wasn't....

The Technical Department has a theory that I find it physically impossible to get rid of books. Which I know to be untrue, since at one point in the dim and distant past I can recall having owned a book by Delia called something tritely lyrical like 'One is Fun', or some such nonsense. Since I don't own it now, and I can't believe anybody would ever have wanted to pinch it, then it must have found its way into the Oxfam box at some point! Ergo....

And then I remembered that I hadn't included the bookcase in the outside hall, and I know for certain there are at least two different books on cooking from Chez Panisse out there, not to mention an early edition of the Tante Claire Cookbook and something by Joel Rebuchon.....

The task is hopeless.........! Until, of course, I think of all the bookshelves in Italy which are still waiting to be filled, and the fact that we have a truck going down sometime between now and the autumn....in which a few boxes of books would be barely noticed as additional ballast.......

Tonight's Dinner:

Chicory and Walnut Salad, with a Sherry Vinegar dressing and Gorgonzola.

Lamb roast with Garlic, Rosemary & Greek Honey. Parsnips roast in Pork Fat and Mustard.

Raspberry Mousse.

6 comments:

Joanna said...

We have the same problem in this house, and the same sort of conversations about it.

When we lived in two places, I found that it was impossible to be without certain cookery books wherever I was, so I have duplicates of some of the very best cookery books (what am I saying? it wasn't just cookery books!!). I've managed to give one or two away, but it does mean that I can keep on the bookshelf by my bed some of the very best books - Geraldine Holt's French Country Kitchen, for instance.

I'm right with you about Simon Hopkinson and Slater. Keep meaning to post about Hopkinson in particular, but never get round to it - although if I did, then I'd be able to put the beastly book into the Oxfam box (I keep one permanently about the house, living in hope!)

Pomiane said...

Snap, re duplicates. Grigson on Fruit, Veg, and Fish is in both places, as is Mastering the Art (Vol 1) and basic Hazan. Otherwise there's a semi strategy, with - for example - Davidson's North Atlantic Fish in London and his Mediterranean Fish in Italy.....
I don't know Geraldine Holt. Am I going to have to find yet MORE usable shelf space?

Toffeeapple said...

See, no need to get rid of anything at all! Just send it off to Italy. I take some to my garage for a year or two then dig them out the next time I'm 'clearing out'.

Wondering what you and Joanna dislike about Slater and Hopkinson? Just curious, you understand, not wanting to get into an argument...

Pomiane said...

Actually, that's a surprisingly difficult question to answer. On one level, I think it's purely instinctive - I read their recipes and find there's somehow something lacking. I don't get the sense that they have a feel for what the ingredients are all about...textures and flavours and combinations. In the same way, I don't think Delia has any feel for food. I suspect Hopkinson's relationship with food is in search of comfort and Slater's is in search of income. In any event, I don't ultimately think that their recipes end up being more then just the sum of the parts.....

The Passionate Palate said...

Jackie O. had a great idea about books - leave them laying around in piles, almost like pieces of furniture, and it actually looks quite fashionable, in a literary way, of course.

Pomiane said...

Jackie O. never had to worry about dusting!