[Book And Album Reviews] Week 2

The week’s book: In Search of Perfection by Heston Blumenthal

“What’s this, Alasdair?” you cry, “A cookbook? Are you changing your ways? Surely if you want to try learning to cook again, you could try something simpler than dishes created by one of the most finicky chefs in the world?”

No. I still can’t cook, and this isn’t a cookbook. It’s a 320 page book that happens to contain 8 recipes and some general tips about making food.

If you saw the BBC series, well, you probably know most of it, but it’s quite nice to have it flip through. If you didn’t, but you’ve heard of Blumenthal and are thinking “why the hell would anyone want his cookbook? Who needs to cook snail porridge, for god’s sake?” I should point out that the recipes are for traditional ordinary dishes. Roast Chicken. Spag Bol. Steak and Salad. The book is about how to produce the absolute best version of them that’s possible. This is a book about farming, about the role of food in society, about the ways in which science and technology are changing the way we do things. It’s entertaining and informative, and is very, very clearly the work of a man of passion.

This week’s music: Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys by Various Artists

Recommended by burge and stu_n among others. Ace. Utterly Ace. I could go on at length about the relationships between chanties, worksongs, folk and blues music, but there’s no point. There’s not a bad track on this, and some of the people you’d expect to be less than exciting are suddenly stellar – I mean, I like U2, but I’ve never enjoyed Bono’s singing like I have on this album. And likewise, suddenly Sting has produced stuff I really enjoy for the first time in years.

And y’know, a lot of it is complete filth, too. Which is always nice.

Highly recommended.

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