on 8 October 2012
First published in 1977 with an introduction by thriller writer Len Deighton (The Ipcress File etc.), this is, to me, how all cookery books should be. The style is short to the point of terse, so let me start by saying who will not like this book. If you are an absolute beginner, you would probably be better off starting with Darina Allen's (Myrtle's daughter-in-law and business partner) excellent Ballymaloe Cookery Course to get a sound grounding in techniques and confidence. Also, no matter what your experience, if you like cookery books with lots of pictures and/or detailed, step by step instructions - or if you like 'fashionable' cookery - you will probably hate this book! It has virtually no recipe-related pictures and the "instructions" are sometimes as sparse as for Potted Crab - 'Blend all the ingredients together. Pack into pots. Run melted butter over the top.' As for 'fashionable' - good food is always good food, and, who remembers the vogue for 'nouvelle cuisine'?
On the other hand, the book does give you all the information you need to produce fantastic food, along with amusing anecdotes, relevant cartoons, and the occasional interesting black-and-white photograph. You have all measurements in metric/imperial/and cups, number of servings and stacks of invaluable tips on achieving perfection. I don't know how many recipes Myrtle Allen packs into 200 pages here, but it must be 200-300 - all those I have done worked well and have clearly been tried and tested dozens of times.