"The basis of good, pleasurable eating is honesty - natural ingredients - their natural flavours and nutrients retained as much as possible."
George Seddon/Jackie Burrow
"Eating is one of the great pleasures of life. It is not just a source of pleasure, however, because life itself depends on it. The food we eat greatly affects how we feel, so it is wise to discover what constitutes a healthy diet; but to allow concern about eating the right food to become an obsession is fatal to enjoyment. This book, therefore, is about eating good food, enjoying it and avoiding the worry." George Seddon/Jackie Burrow
My lucky dip book was written way back in 1978 but large sections of it, could just as easily be written today by the health food people. Well probably more than that - by most foodie magazines and celebrity chefs. Some of the most overused words in cookery writing and food advertisements these days must be 'fresh', 'natural', 'healthy', 'organic', 'real' ... So not a lot has changed there. I think I bought this book when I had small children and thought that I really ought to be eating healthier food. More beans, more grains ...
Its authors are pretty much unknown. The only George Seddon I can find was actually an academic, professor in a wide range of faculties but mostly in environmentally connected areas, and he wrote a number of books on various environmental topics. But I think he is the same man as he did write books about kitchen gardens, but I think this was a one-off foray into food. Jackie Burrow wrote a few other cookbooks but none of them famous. Indeed this is an example of one of those books you find in remaindered pop up shops and in places like K-Mart and supermarkets. Not a 'high class' publication in fact. I suspect that Seddon was responsible for the text and Jackie Burrow for the recipes. There are a few introductory essays about the history of why we eat the way we do, and how convenience and factory farming is destroying the natural. Then the book continues with sections on each kind of food that includes a whole heap of nutritional information - there is a lot of fairly detailed nutritional information in the book - followed by a few representational recipes for each food type.
It was actually interesting to read things like the fact that free range chicken, for example, was becoming a thing of the past, because today the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way. It's taken a long time - around forty years to get to this point. He also spoke about how one would only be able to get some things from a health food shop whereas today, of course, it's in your supermarket, Quinoa, freekeh and the like just did not figure in the book at all. There are some Asian and Middle Eastern recipes but not a lot.
I confess though that I do not use this book. Somehow it survived my last cull, but I have not opened it since, and I don't think I have ever made anything from it. Which is perhaps a little unfair. The recipes are perfectly fine, if not super adventurous, but, for example the page I picked was on tropical fruit which contained four recipes for pineapple - baked, mousse, sorbet and pineapple in kirsch. There was even a series of drawings showing you how to peel a pineapple and there are lots of these scattered throughout the book. It's just old-fashioned somehow. And I know I'm being unfair, because, let's face it, some of Robert Carrier's early stuff is very dated now. But because he has such wonderful recipes that I have used over and over, I am more willing to try other ones.
Maybe it's the layout. Apart from the rather lovely cover, and some other colour photographs of ingredients or dishes scattered throughout the book, the layout is a bit uninviting and plain. What a sucker I am for things that look good. I fear, however, this one is for the op shop when they open again.
But I will leave you with a series of quotes that were actually worth sharing. I might squeeze some of them into the website quotes somewhere.
"Anyone who is desperately hungry will eat the most unpalatable food, and will stop as soon as the pangs of hunger have been appeased. Appealing food, however, tempts us to go on eating after our needs are satisfied."
"Taste is a precious sense that we shamefully neglect. Indeed today's average Western diet corrupts it. Natural honest flavourings are replaced by blandness or by artificial flavourings whose impact has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Many of the foods we eat have lost not only their agreeable flavour but some of their nutritional value as well."
"It is our eating habits rather than the foods we eat that are bad for us."
"Slimmers should beware of the avocado, which is a nutritional rogue. It contains seventeen percent fat, whereas most vegetable/fruits contain less than one per cent."
"one other balance has to be achieved - the balance between eating what we like and what is best for us. The solution is to try to make them the same thing."
All good and thoughtful stuff really. The rather nice drawing on the title page above is somehow very River Cottage. It's an Australian book though.