Release date: 2012 / 416 pages
Synopsis(from Amazon): Having grown up in his parents’ gastropub, Jamie Oliver has always had a special place in his heart for British cooking. And in recent years there’s been an exciting revolution in the British food world in general. English chefs, producers, and artisans are retracing old recipes, rediscovering quality ingredients, and focusing on simplicity and quality. Jamie celebrates the best of the old and new (including classic British immigrant food) in his first cookbook focused on England.em>
Review: I was thrilled when TLC contacted me about reviewing Jamie Oliver’s latest cookbook. In my other reviewing “gig” (at Shelf Awareness), I have been asked to review many cookbooks and at first this seemed strange for a site dedicated to book club picks; however, I have found that I love reading and evaluating (and trying out) new cookbooks. And what better way to impress your book club than to accompany your discussion with a meal or snack appropriate to the setting of your latest pick!
When I first started flipping through Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain, I immediately noticed how Oliver’s personality saturated every page. Instead of “Acknowledgements,” Oliver has “GREAT BIG THANKS,” instead of a “tablespoon” of butter, he suggests a “knob.” (All other measurements are standard). The introduction is written in all caps and includes the following line: “Every time I wrote a recipe for this book, I had to restrain myself from starting each intro with the sentence ‘This dish will make you so happy,’ but I swear, it’s true, this is beautiful comfort food at its best — unfussy and unpretentious, but full of life.” Sounds like a pretty good description of Oliver’s personality, doesn’t it?!
I was fortunate to study in England for 6 months while in college and believed the country’s reputation for unappetizing cuisine quite undeserved. As a vegetarian, I loved the variety of options I found on every menu and especially loved the “full English breakfast” found in most pubs. Oliver addresses the bad reputation of his country’s food in the intro and then explains why he decided to become a chef as well as a bit of his journey in writing this book. He reveals that dishes that are considered quintessentially “British” are often products of ancient immigration — “fish and chips” for example, was introduced by London’s Jewish immigrants in the 1800’s.
But Oliver does not only focus on the old stand-bys. While the Table of Contents includes expected sections on Afternoon Tea, Puddings, and Pub Grub, he has also included New British Classics like Empire Roast Chicken and Wild Food like Scottish risotto and golden pheasant hash. Fortunately for my fellow vegetarians, the section on vegetables is thick and sumptuous, but even the most carnivorous section has side dishes included for the less carnal.
Beyond making sure there is something for all palates and persuasions, when I review a cookbook I always look for intimidating ingredients and unclear explanations — and I found neither! Most of the dishes include ingredients that are recognizable and easy to find — even in the U.S. — and the explanations are clear and straight-forward.
One last observation that cannot go unmentioned — the photographs by “Lord” David Loftus are gorgeous — not only of the dishes, but of the many sights and settings unique to Great Britain.
I was not planning on giving away a copy this week (I really want to keep my copy!), but the publisher has graciously offered an additional copy for me to give away! So, feel free to leave me a comment below and I’ll choose a lucky winner soon!
Jamie Oliver’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: