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Ten cooks who changed the British dinner table.


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“Jay Rayner picks the cookbooks that have made a real difference to the British dinner table and explains why these are his go-to recipe books for home chefs.”

Here.

I am quite certain that not everyone will agree with this list. But it just might open an interesting discussion. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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I think it's an entertaining article. I'd heard of perhaps half of the books, and I have (or have had) a few of them. The writer writes with a panache that I particularly enjoy.

 

Unlikely as it may seem, the 1963 book by Robert Carrier, Great Dishes of the World (eG-friendly Amazon.com link), especially catches my eye. I love that "historical" stuff that overlaps my time on this earth, and I may have to go seek out a copy for the sheer fun of reading it. My question is, what the heck are those things on pedestals in the accompanying photo? They look like frosted bicycle seats. 

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

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14 minutes ago, Smithy said:

I think it's an entertaining article. I'd heard of perhaps half of the books, and I have (or have had) a few of them. The writer writes with a panache that I particularly enjoy.

 

I've heard of all the cooks and read most of the books. It may be because, like the Guardian and Jay Rayner,  I am British.

 

I too, like his writing. His restaurant reviews are great reading even if you know you will never visit the places in question. His rare bad reviews are hilariously vicious. This one is a favourite, with this a close second.

As to the stuff on pedestals, I see roast turkeys, covered in icing / frosting. I don't remember that being a 1960s classic, but it wouldn't surprise me!

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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4 hours ago, Anna N said:

“Jay Rayner picks the cookbooks that have made a real difference to the British dinner table and explains why these are his go-to recipe books for home chefs.”

 

Between January and April of this year, with fewer restaurant reviews, Jay wrote stand alone pieces on each of those books plus Marco Pierre White's White Heat.  

I guess the bad boy didn't make the top 10!

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1 hour ago, Smithy said:

My question is, what the heck are those things on pedestals in the accompanying photo? They look like frosted bicycle seats. 

From my sleuthing looks like the picture was taken when he did the BBC show 'One pair of eyes' in 1973 that picture was taken at a press reception. That's as  far as I got though!

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I am a bit sceptical that any of these books actually made a real difference to the vast majority of British dinner tables.  My favourite and the most approachable of the lot is Nigel Slater‘s Real Fast Food. But even dearer to my heart is his Eat. The Little Book of  Fast Food. 
 

Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Chicken and Other Stories makes for some great reading but the recipes reflect another time. Still there is plenty to learn from this book. 

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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19 minutes ago, Anna N said:

I am a bit sceptical that any of these books actually made a real difference to the vast majority of British dinner tables.

 

I wouldn't go that far. Gary Rhodes had a great impact and I know many people in the UK who still use his books regularly, including my daughter. She was very upset when he died in November 2019 at such a young age.

 

Madjur Jaffrey also. She got a lot of of people cooking Indian food at home, to the extent that most supermarket now stock the requisite spices and ingredients which weren't previously easy to find nationwide.

One noticable absence from the list is the now deeply untrendy Delia Smith who had a much bigger influence that any of those on the list. I can't stand the woman but won't deny that almost everyone I know has their sauce stained copy of her Complete Cookery Course (eG-friendly Amazon.com link). Even I have one somewhere back in England.

 

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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25 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

I wouldn't go that far.

I am not suggesting no changes. I am suggesting that it’s a bit of an exaggeration to point to these books to account for the undoubtedly seismic change in the British dinner table. Travel, TV chefs, and immigration probably had much more of an influence. We may have to agree to disagree on this one.  

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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22 hours ago, liuzhou said:

 

I've heard of all the cooks and read most of the books. It may be because, like the Guardian and Jay Rayner,  I am British.

 

I too, like his writing. His restaurant reviews are great reading even if you know you will never visit the places in question. His rare bad reviews are hilariously vicious. This one is a favourite, with this a close second.

As to the stuff on pedestals, I see roast turkeys, covered in icing / frosting. I don't remember that being a 1960s classic, but it wouldn't surprise me!

 

I just finished reading the reviews.  They are hilarious.  I read a review by Giles Coren once that had me in stitches, but it was a long time ago and I don't remember the name of the restaurant.  It was so funny I remember I read it several times.

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On 6/15/2021 at 10:03 PM, liuzhou said:

One noticable absence from the list is the now deeply untrendy Delia Smith who had a much bigger influence that any of those on the list. I can't stand the woman but won't deny that almost everyone I know has their sauce stained copy of her Complete Cookery Course (eG-friendly Amazon.com link). Even I have one somewhere back in England.

 

There is more on Saint Delia here on the Guardian site today to mark her 80th birthday..

And here's my daughter's copy of her Complete Cookery Course. It was originally published in three volumes. This was the first collected edition. Whether I gave it to her or she bought it, neither of us remember.

 

Delia.thumb.jpg.89d50ec7d12122be8df527ec22de6632.jpg

 

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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8 hours ago, liuzhou said:

There is more on Saint Delia here on the Guardian site today to mark her 80th birthday..

Although I have occasionally looked up a Delia recipe, I am mostly in the dark. Her instructions for making toast are beyond the pale. Yet I can’t help but comment that her opinion of toasters is shared by many people.

 My daughter has bought and returned so many toasters not up to her expectations. And I know we’ve had a number of topics on the same subject here. Grabbing for a cliché — how is it that we can put a man on the moon but can’t make a decent toaster? Just a  rhetorical  question!  
 

 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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7 minutes ago, Anna N said:

Although I have occasionally looked up a Delia recipe, I am mostly in the dark. Her instructions for making toast are beyond the pale. Yet I can’t help but comment that her opinion of toasters is shared by many people.

 My daughter has bought and returned so many toasters not up to her expectations. And I know we’ve had a number of topics on the same subject here. Grabbing for a cliché — how is it that we can put a man on the moon but can’t make a decent toaster? Just a  rhetorical  question!  
 

 

 

I don't think I've ever read her toast instructions (or did I just instinctively bury them in my subconcious to preserve what little remains of my sanity?), but I still make my hummus to her recipe to this day.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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Neitherr have I followed her toast crumb trail.*   I have used Delia to get a sense of style and tradition.    I have very much enjoyed her Book of Cakes which I brought home from a 1980 visit.  

*I am still using my mother's mid-Century Sunbeam toaster.    My d-i-l couldn't believe her eyes when she dropped in a slice of bread and it automatically lowered into the toasting chamber, crying out, "How did THAT happen?"

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