Well, just to clarify, I mean the cookbooks I received as gifts for Christmas rather than books about Christmas cooking! My family and friends know there is no gift I enjoy more than a new cookbook for Christmas. What could be more perfect to a foodie at Christmastime than being able to read about food after stuffing yourself full of it!
Having a few Christmas’s under my belt now (not to mention birthday presents and the ones I acquire for myself in between times) my cookbook library is, to say the least, extensive. It has taken over a complete walk in linen cupboard!
This year Santa did not disappoint and delivered two beauties under the tree: From Venice to Istanbul by Rick Stein and Simply Nigella by the Domestic Goddess herself.
I love Rick Stein’s great mix of travel and cooking programmes and having watched and enjoyed the From Venice to Istanbul series, I was rapt to receive the book as a number of the dishes he cooked were my kind of food. He goes off the beaten track and seems to capture the essence of a country’s cooking which is usually so very simple and rustic in its nature but so delightfully flavourful. The book is a joy to read, not least because of the glorious photography, as Rick gives little anecdotes from when he actually comes across the dish and then tips when he recreates it. I know I am going to enjoy dipping in and out of this book for many years (and meals) to come.
Simply Nigella is not the Nigella I have come to know and love. I think I have just about all her books and, for me, there is something missing in this one. I know she has gone through a traumatic time recently and, by her own admission, this book has come out of her rebuilding and moving on with her life. Maybe that is why it seems, well, a little subdued for her. The recipes seem to err more towards the trying to be healthy rather than her usual indulgent style. Again, this is probably because this is where she is at with her life and reflects her new, svelte figure. Having said that, there are some very tempting dishes which are resonant of the old Nigella, so she is still in there somewhere but I have to admit there are some that I do wonder how they ever made it into the book! I hope she finds herself in a happier place for her next book.