Rose Prince

A choice of this year’s cook books

What a relief to find ourselves in a non-faddy cook book year. We are not being encouraged to chew only plants, ferment everything, grow burgers in labs or devour insects. It’s not that I don’t look for answers to how we should eat to survive the future, but I know a thing or two about

A choice of this year’s cook books

The revolving doors of the 1990s’ restaurant scene saw a cast of great characters, sadly now on the wane. One of the so-called ‘modern British’ movement’s greatest champions, Terence Conran, has departed; we have lost Alastair Little and Andrew Edmunds, and only last month Joyce Molyneux, of Carved Angel fame. Who? What? If you never

On the wild side

The terroir of the Kentish coast is faultlessly represented in The Sportsman (Phaidon, £29.95), a book of recipes from an acclaimed pub restaurant in the village of Seasalter, close to Whitstable. On the bill of fare (it’s that English) you will find slip soles and thornback ray, salt marsh lamb and oysters, seaweeds of all

Sunshine on a plate: the year’s best cookbooks

In the dark days of a terrible winter, Elizabeth David began writing her first book, about Mediterranean food. The timing should have been wrong. People enduring post-war rationing would rather not think about sunlit shores and dishes of bright food, surely? But oh, how depressed, broke Britain lapped up A Book of Mediterranean Food when

When Idi Amin threatened to shoot the cook

Private chefs keep many secrets and are expected to go to their graves without sharing a morsel of gossip about their employers. Whether cooking for a pop star, tycoon or member of a royal family, chefs must guarantee confidentiality. Chatter can be career-ending or lead to lawsuits. For a few such cooks, revelations could even

Pure and mostly simple

A long and messy business is how the chef Rowley Leigh explains his preferred way of eating. Picking at a crab, for example, or eating raw young broad beans straight from the pod. He applies the same phrase to cooking. That too is messy, but not all the recipes in his new book take ages

Fast or feast

‘Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are.’ The best known adage in food literature, penned by the French politician and gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, divides all of us generally: the gourmands from the picky, the greedy from the careful, one nation from another, one culture from the next. Laura

A feast in every sense

After reading Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating, you might, as I did, sit for a bit wondering what a chef is, exactly. We think of chefs as cooks, people in charge of a kitchen, ingredients, pan and heat, who hopefully produce great dishes of food. But this is apparently an outdated concept. For chefs

Christmas cookbooks

New books by Raymond Blanc and Pierre Koffmann retell the truth that British food came back from the brink. If it were not for the émigré chefs, I hate to think what we would be eating in British restaurants now. Fishfingers à la King, with pea jelly ring? Such horrors existed, or let’s say they

Apples for our eyes

Apple Day, on 21 October, is a newish festival, created in 1990, by the venerable organisation, Common Ground. Intended to be a celebration of the apple, its purpose is also to raise awareness of the importance of apples in landscape, ecology and culture. All over the country there will be many revels where you can

Food of love

Modern Britain scratches its head over children who are overfed, not underfed, while guilt-ridden mothers stand accused of feeding children badly even if they are not obese. These are not insignificant troubles since childhood obesity is set to cost the NHS many millions in years to come. But as a new exhibition at the Foundling

Woolton’s war

In wartime the housekeeping is a nightmare. While fighting Napoleon in Spain the Duke of Wellington sent an infuriated letter to the government in Whitehall. He complained that they had asked him to account for a petty cash deficit of one shilling and ninepence, and a ‘hideous confusion as to the number of jars of

Carrots — and no stick

Never mind teaching children to cook: they need to be taught to eat. Obvious? Totally, but this is the choosing part of eating, not the chomping and swallowing we are born to do. Yet, terrific survivors that omnivores have proven to be, they do not know poison from medicine unless told so. So, if you

A cure for Christmas: the pleasure (and perils) of preserves

My family knows that once the flaming pudding is on the table, late on Christmas Day, all meals will be picnics. Bar a few potatoes flung into the oven to bake, all cooking stops and eating becomes a forage into a squirrelled hoard of treats: the jars, tins, balsawood boxes and less pretty but functional

Romance of the old kitchen garden

Considerable areas of our memory are taken up with food: it might be the taste of Mother’s sponge, the melting texture of an aunt’s buttery pastry or something recent, like the flavour of the first spoonful of a sour and nutty south-east Asian dish. Especially good meals are recalled with the same clarity as revolting

Rose Prince’s summer wine match menu

It may seem like stating the obvious, but to me the best wines are food wines, meaning those that should never be far away from a plate of something they match perfectly. A dish with the right wine is a meeting of two halves to make a whole experience that stays in your memory for