I’ve had friends over from the US and France this week, and the conversation over a good dinner turned to the state of British cooking. Of course, the charming Frenchman was still very reticent about whether or not dinner could possibly be good, whereas the Americans were blown away. And then breakast at Canteen convinced them that British cooking was definitely in safe hands. So these five celebrate what’s great in all the amazing diversity of cooking in the UK today.
Canteen: Great British Food – breakfast, lunch or dinner, Canteen is one of my favourite places. Great contemporary takes on traditional recipes, like Welsh Rarebit or Coronation Chicken, but in ways that make it seem fresh. I don’t know why I don’t own this book, as it’s very much the sort of stuff I like to cook.
British Baking from Peyton & Byrne – again, a favourite place, and I do own this book. Whilst focused on baking, it covers sweet and savoury, and again represents reinventing great British favourites for today. If I stop by the bakery then there is the huge temptation of a fig roll or a Scotch egg.
British Seasonal Food by Mark Hix – British food in season can’t be beaten, just think about how amazing the asparagus is at the moment. And Mark Hix has been a great exponent of British and seasonal. This is good gutsy food, organised by month, so you really know that you’re making the most of everything around us.
Bocca Cookbook – one of the things I pointed out to the Frenchman in the group was that within a half mile radius I could eat from a huge variety of cuisines, and that that diversity is part of what I love about the British food landscape today. Bocca di Lupo is often cited as one of the UK’s best Italian restaurants, and shows that as a nation we love all kinds of food influences, that there is no food snobbery here.
Supper Club: recipes and notes from the underground restaurant by Kerstin Rodgers – supper clubs and underground restaurants have been an important development in the UK over the last couple of years, and Kerstin Rodgers aka Ms Marmite Lover has been one of the leaders of the pack. This is a beautiful book, regardless of whether you want to run a supper club or not. Beautiful photography and great recipes that you could use any time you had friends coming round, for any occasion.
Whilst I may not have convinced the Frenchman, I think there is so much great stuff to celebrate in the UK that we should be really celebrating that, every single day.