I was thinking about cookery books, the other day. When I first got married, I was already a reasonably proficient cook, which was just as well because Russell wasn’t up to much in the kitchen. He had lunch in a nice local cafe most days and I don’t suppose he bothered much in the evenings, unless his mum had supplied him with something.
His cooking arrangements were a bit basic, though quite adequate. He had a small second-hand electric cooker, which I’d used before I lived in his house but, as I was used to gas, I forgot that there wasn’t a visible flame. After cooking for us once, I left the hotplate on and, next morning, he found that a plastic container had melted a bit. At least a lesson was learned without a disaster.
The first cookbook I had was Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking. I still have that very book on my kitchen shelf and use it regularly. It was actually a fabulous book for a keen cook who wasn’t used to planning and cooking every single day (for the rest of her life *horrified emoji*) as it had something of everything, lots of anecdotes and explanations and there was nothing that was likely to go wrong.
My second book is still on the shelf and, again, it’s a good one. Robert Carrier, Cooking For You. Very straightforward and clear, two recipes to each page with a photo at the top of each column and the ingredients and method underneath.
I also had Good Housekeeping’s Cookery Encyclopaedia, in two volumes, arranged alphabetically. That is very good for basic knowledge, such as proportions and general information. I used it most recently when I was out of baking powder and needed proportions and quantities of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar; and when I made lemonade – though I’ve changed the recipe because it’s got too much sugar for today’s tastes.
Tastes have changed, certainly. I remember my mother having several American cookbooks, and she routinely halved the sugar in them. But her lemon syllabub recipe is too sweet for today. And yet most people eat more sweets than they did then, and drink drier wine. And most of us are fatter than most people were forty years ago. *Shrug emoji*