Ordinarily the word "lifestyle" is more likely to be applied to slender magazine articles puffing lofts full of Eames furniture rather than books about smallholdings in Dorset. The River Cottage Cookbook, however, is a hefty 450 pages of pure, gumbooted rural lifestyle; and one could not wish it shorter. Cook, broadcaster and food-writer-at-large Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has been ensconced at River Cottage for a number of years, cultivating his vegetable garden, raising chickens, pigs and even cattle for his table and taking occasional potshots at the local wildlife. His achievements have been chronicled on television; now they appear between hard covers.
Although it calls itself a cookbook and does contain a large number of fine recipes, the book's scope is much broader. Really, this is more like one of those "Enquire Within on Everything" volumes 19th-century settlers used to take to the outback with them, full of instructions for mixing whitewash, worming dogs and making a bag pudding. Starting with vegetables, proceeding to livestock and fish (River Cottage does indeed have a river and is only five miles from the sea) and concluding with the wild food, floral and faunal, of the hedgerow, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall explains how he grows, gathers, kills and cooks his own food.
There is a lot of information here, and a lot of hard reality, too: he is very clear and forthright about the place of death in this kind of life. But then this is a very clear and forthright book overall, a very engaging and really quite inspirational manual of how to live the country life so many of us dream about. It's well-illustrated, too, with Simon Wheeler's fine photographs of Hugh at work chasing chickens, skinning eels, carrying piglets and so on. The food in the River Cottage kitchen looks wonderful, too, though the photo of a cod-head glaring resentfully from under a beehive of parsley in a stock pot carries many more resonances than it is possible to summarise here. --Robin Davidson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“As good for the armchair as it is in the kitchen, even worth packing for reference outdoors.”
– Tom Jaine, The Guardian
“Hugh’s take on food is charming and refreshingly earthy. How can one refuse?”
– Rick Stein
From the Back Cover
‘We all know that food can often be the source of great pleasure. My question is, why isn’t it always?
One of the most satisfying things about my life at River Cottage is that I rarely find myself thinking “Why am I eating this rubbish?” I hope this book will help you to maximise the amount of daily pleasure you get from food, and eliminate the rubbish.
How much you incorporate into your own life is up to you. But if all you do is grow a few herbs in a window box, make nettle soup once a year, and try a free range goose for Christmas, you will already be enjoying your life more. And you won’t be the only one.’
-Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is the idiosyncratic and highly acclaimed presenter of Channel 4’s TV Dinners, A Cook on the Wild Side and Escape to River Cottage, as well as a columnist for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Times. He has three times been nominated for the prestigious Glenfiddich Food Awards, winning once with the second series of A Cook on the Wild Side. Hugh lives in Dorset with his partner Marie and their son Oscar.