The Really Quite Good British Cookbook Edited by William Sitwell

Review by Kylie Thompson

Rating: 4.5 stars
Genre: cooking, charity
Publisher: Echo

 

I think we all know that a self-deprecating cookbook is always going to make my TBR pile. But when your modestly titled, rather massive cookbook is also a fundraising endeavour? I’m in.

‘The Really Quite Good British Cookbook’ is a celebration of the cultural melting pot that is modern British cooking. If you’ve ever believed the stereotype that English cooking is terrible, this is probably going to be a hell of an eye-opener to read. As much as those of us outside Britain might be prone to mockery, the truth is that many of the world’s most famous- and infamous- chefs are British. And yes, the higher ups of the British cookery pantheon are represented here: Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay, and Rick Stein all have at least one recipe included into the mix.

The idea behind ‘The Really Quite Good British Cookbook’ is rather sweet: 100 of Britain’s finest, most iconic foodies have been asked a simple yet profoundly difficult question: what do you cook for yourself, and for the people you love?

These are the foods that are served up when the camera crew has left for the day, when there’s far less need for perfect plating or showing off. Let’s be honest: when you see 100 foodies talking about their favourite dishes, it’s easy to assume the recipes are all going to be well beyond the skill level of your average kitchen user. And yet, the majority of the dishes included here fall onto the ‘easy’ end of the cooking spectrum. This isn’t the sort of cookbook filled with beautiful photography and recipes you’ll never actually try: this is a practical, generally easy collection of new meal ideas.

The foods and flavours are diverse and well beyond tantalising; there are more than a few recipes that’ll leave you twitching to hit the kitchen and start making some magic. Be warned, though: these aren’t the slap-dash meals you’d throw together at the last second- unless you happen to have a perpetually perfectly-stocked kitchen to work from. And yet, the recipes look delicious enough to make a potential hunt for new ingredients feel less like a chore than an adventure.

This isn’t your typical cookbook. Proceeds from sales go to help The Trussel Trust; a UK initiative helping people in serious financial trouble keep food on their tables. Essentially, it’s a survival initiative for those trapped below the poverty line. It’s not a happy topic- it’s never nice to contemplate that while politicians are out howling at the moon about the evils of welfare, that welfare money isn’t always enough to keep the basics of food and shelter sorted. And yet, ‘The Really Quite Good British Cookbook’ exists as a way to support The Trussell Trust’s efforts to save lives. It’s a really quite staggering thought: buying this book will literally make someone’s life better. That’s a rather impressive feat.

‘The Really Quite Good British Cookbook’ is published by Echo, and is available through selected retailers.

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