It's almost a year since I started Cooking the Books, my first podcast after nearly four years of producing and presenting podcasts for delicious. Leon, Borough Market and the Food Foundation. And what a year it's been.
It was a BIG year for food books too; I'm not a great fan of a book without a cause, and we were spoilt for choice with the massive variety of meaty reads which fed our minds as well as our bellies. Give me a big fat intro and chunky chapters, preferably making me hoot and weep in equal measure, and I’ll return to it again and again, not just to cook a delicious dinner but to fill the house with adventure and insights. I’ve been transported around the world by Henrietta Lovell in Infused, Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley in Falastin, Romy Gill in Zaika, Felicity Cloake's hilarious bike tour of France in One More Croissant for the Road and Jeff Gordinier in Hungry. We can taste the galangal in Lara Lee's Coconut and Sambal, dream with MiMi Aye in Mandalay, pickle with Olia Hercules in Summer Kitchens, and roast the lamb with Theo Michaels in Rusticate and Irini Tzortzoglou in Under the Olive Tree.
We travelled in our minds with The Rangoon Sisters in their eponymous debut, Christine Smallwood's Vegetarian Italy, Skye McAlpine's A Table for Friends, Ravinder Bhogal's Jikoni, Ana Ros' Sun and Rain and Ixta Belfrage and Yotam Ottolenghi in Flavour. I urge you to feast on them all, if you haven’t already. Click on Bookshop to fill your boots.
Our British produce has quite rightly been prettied up and served as the answer to saving the planet. It comes from the back of the fridge in Melissa Hemsley’s Eat Green, in pickles and fire pits in James Strawbridge’s Artisan Kitchen, in Michelin style in Tom Kerridge’s Hand and Flowers cookbook and in finest detail in Calum Franklin’s Pie Room.
We’ve had big, sweeping context too: William Sitwell tells us how we got to now through the history of eating out, and eco chef Tom Hunt wraps it all up in his manifesto in Eating for Pleasure, People and Planet. Trine Hahnemann's chef activism in Scandinavian Green was a delight on the podcast, and as we kicked 2020 out of the door on New Year's Eve, Carolyn Steel told us how we lost our way and how to get it back in her MASSIVE work and my BOOK OF THE YEAR, Sitopia.
It’s ALL about how to eat to save the planet on Cooking the Books, whether it’s about food and identity, food history, food waste or food and farming, and I cannot WAIT to get stuck into next year’s meaty reads. Pinch of Nom, the publishing sensation that has smashed all records since they began starts the year as I mean to go on by celebrating the women who have brought simple, healthy recipes to millions of people who missed out on learning to cook at school and at home.
Happy New Year!