Friday, 13 June 2008

Mind Control

Hey, I hate you! Stop getting inside my mind and suggesting things that you know I'll want to buy. Do you not realise I'm a non-earning student with zero disposable income? Who do you think you are, Derren Brown? All I wanted was Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page and there you go again, not-so-subliminally flashing your wares in front of my greedy eyes. "Recommended for you" you write above a nice picture of The French Laundry cookbook. Mmmm, yes I would quite like that actually. Next to The French Laundry there's Essence By David Everitt-Matthias of Le Champignon Sauvage and I want that too. Just stop it! Stop it right now! But you don't do you? You carry on with Molecular Gastronomy by Herve This and Pierre Gagnaire's Reinventing French Cuisine and before I know it I've racked up £55 in orders having used considerable mouse restraint to stop myself from purchasing the last two.

Hey, I don't hate you anymore. Let's kiss and make up. The books have arrived and I love them all. Culinary Artistry is a fantastically practical guide to pairing ingredients, both tried and tested combinations and some more unusual ones too. I have no doubt it will become an indispensable resource for sense-checking the dishes I put together. The French Laundry is a beautiful piece of publishing, more a coffee table enhancer that a practical book perhaps, given the heavy use of prime ingredients such as foie gras, Maine lobster, and truffles. That's not to say that the book doesn't contain some more realistic recipes to follow, in fact I tried the aubergine caviar method for a dish at school the other week and it worked a treat. Finally, there isn't a dish in Essence that I don't want to eat or try making myself. The plating of the dishes is everything I aspire to in terms of presentation and the use of foraged ingredients in the dishes is fascinating. It makes me wish I lived in the countryside rather than urban London where the only thing I have ever brought back from a foraging trip is dog poo on my shoes.

It's a wonderful feeling to open any cookery book, be it written by Ramsay or Keller, and not feel intimidated by any of the recipes in it. Compared to how I cooked a year ago, I can now understand all the techniques used, substitute the ingredients I don't have, and plate the dish how it is meant to be plated. The past 6 months of a professional cookery diploma have not just given me knowledge, they have given me confidence, and kitchen confidence is a truly liberating thing.

1 comment:

oddwod said...


I currently work at a wine shop that specialises in natural wine from small producers. We are passionate about the synergy of food and wine and are therefore keen to introduce food lovers such as your self to our business.

We are planning to have a wine and chocolate tasting for our favourite food bloggers (free of charge) would you be interested in this?

If so please do email me and I shall send you the details.

Our website is

My email address is

I hope to hear from you soon

Kind regards