My favourite food and drink books of 2022
Almost impossible to whittle them down to 10 but here goes ...
I meant to get this list out before Christmas but, y’know - life. However it’s given me a bit more time to reflect on what my favourite books of 2022 were and to focus not just on books that were published in the run-up to Christmas but ones which came out earlier in the year.
Also, most importantly, ones I’ve actually cooked from …
Some of my favourite authors are not represented - there was no NIgel or Nigella this year and no Diana Henry but I have other great books by those authors. (I do sometimes wonder how many books one needs from the same writer. Do we really need yet another Jamie or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in our lives? Maybe the latest Heston which is a bit like a a comic book and doesn’t really read like anything he’s written before. And the new Mark Diacono, Spice, which is part of an excellent series of single subject cookbooks.)
It’s also a question of what and how you cook isn’t it? I’m not much of a baker so books like Irina Georgescu’s Tava wouldn’t get much used but it’s a lovely book.
I’m also a relatively lazy rather than a big project cook so Ixta Belfrage’s Mezcla, despite including one of the best lasagnes I’ve ever eaten (the prawn lasagne with habanero oil) didn’t make the cut.
Here are the 10 that did …
(Oh and before I do, a quick reminder not to forget to go in for this month’s comp of a case of Libertine sparkling wine. The closing date for entries is January 2nd)
Jeremy Lee fans, among whom I count myself, have been waiting for this book for years and it doesn’t disappoint. It reads exactly as he speaks which is with wild, enthusiastic extravagance. I’m not sure I’m going to tackle his signature dish of a smoked eel sandwich but any book that has chapters on biscuits and breadcrumbs has my vote.
If no-one gave it to you for Christmas, buy it not least ‘cos it’s half price in Waterstones at the time of writing
Had I not been asked to review this book (by Club Oenologique) I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. Much as I like butter I would have wondered if you actually need a £26 368 page book on the subject? The answer is that you do. Potts, a former lawyer who retrained as a patissier, is another terrific writer of unabashed greediness and covers all the bases from parmesan and black pepper sablés (“the best little cheese biscuits in the whole world”) to a classic croissant. An invaluable resource as well as being a delightful read.
Another book I probably wouldn’t have picked up as I find Borough Market too much of a tourist trap these days but Clutton’s book is stuffed with good recipes and some incredibly useful information about lesser known ingredients like unusual fish cuts and what to do with different kinds of squash. A real bible.
Published back in the summer this book didn’t make some of the Christmas round-ups but it was lavishly praised by both Nigella and Diana Henry and for good reason. It’s a chatty, engaging collection of recipes from the various places Debora has lived, most recently France. I’ve made and can strongly recommend the potato, cheddar and spring onion rolls and have my eye on the eggs benedict strata, her solution to the challenging task of making eggs benedict for a crowd.. Robertson looks set fair to be our own Ina Garten.
You absolutely don’t need to be a veggie to enjoy this book, simply have a desire to incorporate more veg into your daily diet. Woodhouse, who also took all the photos in the book, even converted me to sweet potatoes with his sweet potato salad with ‘loads of herbs and pink peppercorns’ and the warmed asparagus and lettuce is a great new way of eating asparagus. I love that every recipe has an accompanying picture. A keeper.
You might not feel like buying a barbecue book in the middle of winter but this has recipes you can use year-round. It will also help you understand the whole process of cooking over coals and the part it plays in so many world cuisines. Graves is not just a barbecue chef but a gifted home cook. If I had a garden - or even an outdoor space - I’d be using it all the time. Even if you haven’t many of the recipes have instructions for cooking indoors. It’s the small, clever things like cacio e pepe butter and artichoke mayonnaise that got me.
I feel slightly sheepish including this as I was one of the contributors (the section on wine snacks) but it’s full of contributions from writers I admire including some excellent seasonal menus. (I’m particularly looking forward to making Calum Franklin’s Braeburn Eve’s pudding with calvados custard). The illustrations are also really charming. A lovely New Year’s present for a foodie friend
The most surprising food book of the year for me has been Ha-Joon Chang’s Edible Economics which attempts to explain economics through the medium of food. I listened to him talk about it at Daunt Books and was so inspired I got the book. If, like me, you’re economically illiterate you should too - it’s a cracking read. As he says “You don’t need other people to tell you how to learn, critically reflect upon and use economics. You are all perfectly capable of figuring it out for yourself.” No excuse then.
Having visited a number of distilleries on my Scottish road trip this summer I couldn’t wait to see this book from award-winning whisky writer Dave Broom. It’s an evocative gloriously illustrated book full of great stories about the history of each distillery and the characters that populate the whisky world - as much about whisky culture as the drink itself. It was great to read about the Isle of Raasay to which I travelled on a tiny ferry back in August - you can’t read this book without wanting to spend more time in Scotland - and drink whisky come to that.
There have been some really good cocktail books this year but I’m going for this smart little one by Financial Times columnist Alice Lascelles which is based on 12 classic cocktails. The recipes are great but it’s the explanations and tips which will really up your cocktail game. I can’t wait for summer to make a tarragon gimlet
What were your favourite food and drink books this year? What have I missed?
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