Take a trip around the world and open your kitchen

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The Book

Home Food: Exploring the World’s Best Cooking

Author (s)

Richard Whittington

Year

1999

What it says on the back cover

“Richard Whittington is a brilliant writer and exciting original cook. I love his work’.

– Robert Carrier

‘ Richard’s Home Food will take you on a hugely comprehensive tour of my favourite culinary stamping-ground- the World. This book is a great read,  informative and exciting, and even more fun once you have the shopping bags on the bench ready to go.’

– Peter Gordon

What made me pick up this book?

Like many home cooks, I enjoy making dishes that are not overly taxing or too bland. When I travel, I love tasting new cuisine and if I am lucky to be invited to someone’s home, I love to try their food and enjoy good conversation around the table discussing their lives and what is important to them.

Over the years I have gone into homes of some of the most interesting people that I have met. Their food is often simple but  prepared with alot of love that may have been handed down from generation to generation. I recall going to the home of a couple that I taught English to and eating a simple platter of homemade bread, cheese, olives and a dash of oil. The food was deliciously served with a cup of sweetened tea and it was delicious (I don’t usually drink my tea with sugar either but this was laced with condensed milk). The cheese had been made the day before, the bread was freshly made that day and the olive oil added that little something special  with the olives that were plump and juicy.

About the book

The book is made up of nineteen fantastic chapters that introduce the reader to some of the worlds most lovingly made food. The first section focuses Taste First which explains what Home Food is all about. “Home Food is a voyage around the world in one cookbook, a journey which puts together dishes reflecting the best of each of the places it visits”.

Chapter one devotes itself to soups which vary from a light shellfish connsome with prawn cakes to a simple watercress soup. There is very little information to say where some of these recipes come from but Whittington does open his chapter by informing his readers that soups “whatever their national origin, can precede a main course from somewhere else in the same way that desserts from anywhere can follow on from a from a savoury dish originally from the other side of the world without any awkward lurch or cultural dissonance” (Whittington, pg 17).

Australia then leads Chapter two which as a New Zealander I was a bit frustrated that Whittington did not call it Australasia (Australia, New Zealand and the Islands) as he made a recipe  using our New Zealand native green lipped mussels which are way larger than those that come from Northern hemisphere in his dish of Green lipped mussels with tomato sauce and saffron mayonnaise.

Whittington then follows on with Chapter three and The Balkans to the Bosphorous which is a bit of a mouthful if you say it. Britain follows on behind Chapter four which is not boring as some cooks are often lead to believe. Dishes from the Deep fried scallops with bacon are featured which was considered a high tea or supper dish for the Yorkshire folk and Toad in the hole, a delightful sausage dish that I remember having a Lancashire visitor who came to visit, making me one night with its all important batter that was poured over the top to make a delicious Yorkshire pudding, a real favourite of mine when I eat a roast dinner.

This book is delicious and some of the dishes take me back to those memories especially when I lived in Saudi Arabia and how my Saudi friend Ali introduced me to a snack which was served on the side of the road and ate this most interesting dish with cooked chickpeas and a special sauce.

Whittington did one better and ate a delicious barbeque of Marinated lamb  which had been marinated in yoghurt and delicious spices. The Middle East soon became one of my most favourite foods as I too ate my share of Shwarma (marinated meat that is cooked and served with bread, salad, and sometimes rice on the side and Kabsa, Saudi’s national dish which is very similar to an Indian biryani.

Is this book worth buying?

This book is jammed pack with lots of delicious recipes. The aromas that came from my Vietnamese five spice chicken were divine and Turnip paste (which Worthington called ‘heavenly delight’ is my favourite Chinese dish whenever I eat Yum cha. Although fiddly to make, Turnip paste is more like a glutinous savoury cake.  I love it as it melts into my mouth and the little flecks of Chinese sausage that are finely diced through the mix. It is a little time consuming but well worth it, I fried it and then steamed it and although my ‘cakes’ were hardly the same in appearance as the ones I get when I go out to eat. The taste was there and it me wanting to go back for seconds.  I lick my lips just thinking of it. It is often dipped in soy sauce or a chilli sauce to bring out the flavour.

Sadly Whittington is no longer with us and like my own father, he had MS.  I knew very little about this man until I got this book but he was often well received by many despite his infamous temper for which he was known to possess. I am often on the look out for more of his books when I go to Book fairs and the like. This one, although I purchased brand new is a treat and is one cookbook in my rather comprehensive bookcase is most certainly a keeper. To read a bit more on Whittington check out http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/books-obituaries/8249203/Richard-Whittington.html

“The smell of lamb grilling over charcoal is an instant call to the table. It is one of the most appetizing smells of the summer barbeque and will transport you immediately in your mind to a Greek taverna or a myriad of other destinations throughout North Africa and the Middle East…” (Whittington, 1999).

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