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A Stephanie for the street library

"On top of my wish list is a desire to make every one of you a lifelong foodlover, to enjoy cooking for yourself, your friends, and for your own family without anxiety, and to become a supporter of the very best we have." Stephanie Alexander

This is a quickie as it's late and I have not much time before having to go and cook tonight's dinner.

In this instance of discarding a book to the street library it is not so much because the book is no good, although I do have some problems with it, which I shall come to. No it's more that I bought three copies of this a few years ago, when Readings had them on a special offer. It is a demonstration of me being a very careless shopper.

At the time I was in the throes of trying to teach the grandchildren to cook and I knew that Stephanie had written a book specifically for children. I thought this was it and so didn't check it properly, although the title should have told me - 'New Foodies' is not really children is it.? Nevertheless I did keep one for myself and gave one to the girls as they are actually quite interested in cooking but I didn't really think the boys - or their parents - would be bowled over. So it's just been sitting there waiting for me to think what to do with it - Street Library here I come.

What it is is a sort of pared back A Cook's Companion but with more emphasis on techniques and methods, equipment and so on. The arrangement, by ingredient, is still the same, but there are, of course, fewer ingredients. And there is not a single photograph of a dish in it. Yes there are arty, supposedly fun full page illustrations here and there throughout the book, after each section - like this one - but I would have thought that the young - is she talking to the millennials here? - would either prefer some kooky cartoons as in Nat's What I Reckon Cookbook - see below - or some really lush Instagram type of photographs of the finished product. Would a young person be attracted by just a name like Apple crumble or Quick apple cake? I don't think so somehow.

Now I am completely put off by the cartoon style of Nat's What I Reckon Cookbook, but I gather it has been an amazing success. To me it is all just too confusing - but then I'm old.

Honestly it's all a bit dull. The recipes are dull, the writing is dull and the layout is dull. Yes it is worthy and yes it is probably the very best place to find out how to make all the classic dishes you can think of from Bircher muesli to Anna-Maria's zucchini slice - the first and last recipes in this book. Pages and pages of text - however big the font - is boring, boring, boring in a cook book. So yes, I guess it's a very useful book to have in your library or as a textbook kind of thing for schools - but for a fun way to learn to cook? No.

Noble but dull. Others have done it better - Delia for one in her three volume cookery course. I would never put that in a Street Library.


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