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The Pedant In The Kitchen [Kindle Edition]

Julian Barnes
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Pedant's ambition is simple. He wants to cook tasty, nutritious food; he wants not to poison his friends; and he wants to expand, slowly and with pleasure, his culinary repertoire. A stern critic of himself and others, he knows he is never going to invent his own recipes (although he might, in a burst of enthusiasm, increase the quantity of a favourite ingredient). Rather, he is a recipe-bound follower of the instructions of others.

It is in his interrogations of these recipes, and of those who create them, that the Pedant's true pedantry emerges. How big, exactly, is a 'lump'? Is a 'slug' larger than a 'gout'? When does a 'drizzle' become a downpour? And what is the difference between slicing and chopping?This book is a witty and practical account of Julian Barnes' search for gastronomic precision. It is a quest that leaves him seduced by Jane Grigson, infuriated by Nigel Slater, and reassured by Mrs Beeton's Victorian virtues. The Pedant in the Kitchen is perfect comfort for anyone who has ever been defeated by a cookbook and is something that none of Julian Barnes' legion of admirers will want to miss.

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Product Description


‘Fizzing with decades of pent-up frustration and creative rebellion, this is a tiny masterpiece of observational wit’ -- The Herald (Glasgow)

‘My only complaint about this book is that it is too small; there is not enough of it’ -- Publishing News

‘Precise, humorous and informative…Barnes has created a curiously palatable little book’ -- Evening Standard

‘This a hob-side classic’ -- Scotland on Sunday

About the Author

Julian Bames has written nine novels, a book of short stories, and two collections of essays. He has received several awards and honours for his writing including the Somerset Maugham Award (Metroland 1981), and two Booker Prize nominations (Flaubert's Parrot 1984, England, England 1998).

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 881 KB
  • Print Length: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 Sept. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843542390
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843542391
  • ASIN: B008QO91CA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #45,650 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Julian Barnes is the author of ten novels, including Metroland, Flaubert's Parrot, A History of the World in 10½ Chapters and Arthur & George; two books of short stories, Cross Channel and The Lemon Table; and also three collections of journalism, Letters from London, Something to Declare, and The Pedant in the Kitchen.

His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. In France he is the only writer to have won both the Prix Médicis (for Flaubert's Parrot) and the Prix Femina (for Talking it Over). In 1993 he was awarded the Shakespeare Prize by the FVS Foundation of Hamburg. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good things... 4 Dec. 2003
By A Customer
This is the perfect book for anyone who loves to cook and has experienced the anguish of striving to match the glossy perfection presented by contemporary cook books and tv shows. It was good to know that I'm not the only amateur chef who feverishly buys and hoards cook books (thanks to Amazon I now can't afford any of the ingredients, but at least I have an extensive recipe library). It's equally reassuring to know that Julian Barnes has also spent valuable time worrying about what exactly constitutes a medium-sized onion. Written with humour and a good pinch of style, their were many times I laughed out loud with tears roling down my face (makes a change from the tears I normally shed when chopping a medium-sized onion). Great book - would go well with the turkey and lightly buttered sprouts.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book 15 Sept. 2007
I agree with everything Amazon reviewers have said here but I'd like to add a word about the illustrations which are witty and beautiful. I own the hardcover version and had to search for the artist's name. I found it in tiny print on the dustcover's inside back flap. There is also a mingy little acknowledgment along with 'moral rights' and ISBN notes inside. Congratulations to a chap called Joe Berger for making The Pedant in the Kitchen so attractive.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining reading 30 Oct. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Julian Barnes just wants to cook delicious food for his family and friends. He doesn't want to be a master chef and not does he want to invent his own recipes - he just wants to follow other people's instructions. But recipes books can be less than exact for the cook who likes to know precisely how much is in heaped teaspoonful and when the recipe says `a teaspoonful' does it mean level, heaped or rounded?

Having read this very entertaining collection of essays I find myself wondering about some of the recipes I use. I've never really worried about exact quantities especially of things like fruit in fruit cake - if it's a little over on the specified quantity then it goes in anyway. But I do wonder now about all those inexact quantities. What exactly constitutes a squeeze of lemon juice? How big is a handful and whose hands should I use when measuring the handful?

As well as spluttering coffee over too many surfaces because I was laughing while reading the book I have picked up a very useful hint. If quantities are not precise put in more of the ingredients you like and less of those you don't like and the result should be fine. I really enjoyed reading `A Pedant in the Kitchen' and if Julian Barnes' novels are as entertaining as this book of essays I shall enjoy reading them.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 3 May 2005
By Judge
Don't expect a cookbook - you won't get one. This is just Julian's observations about cooking and the terrible havoc that the generalities of most cookbooks can cause to a pendant who slavishly follows recipes.
It is frankly hilarious, especially the chapter entitled "No, we won't do that". Cookbook writers take note
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good humoured reassurance for home cooks 22 Nov. 2008
Julian Barnes uses his beautiful literary style to entertain the cooks amongst us. This book is a must read if you buy cookbooks and despair at the imprecise nature of the instructions given or are appalled by the difference between your finished article and the photograph in the book. A short read that you won't put down. One for cooks who want some comfort that they are not alone with their catering concerns.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Little Book 17 Feb. 2014
Barnes is not a natural cook, rather he is a follower of the recipe, an acolyte of the great cookery writers, but most of all a pendant.

In this delightful little book he takes several subjects and writes a short essay on each. He writes about dinner parties, the exact dimensions of a medium onion, the frustrations of some cook books and the delights of others.

There is some great advice in here too. When doing a dinner party, do as they do in France, and buy one of two of the courses. Don't ever make the River Cafe chocolate nemesis, dried pasta is as good as fresh and that the most useful gadget for a home kitchen is a sign saying; This is not a Restaurant.

I am starting to like Barnes as a writer more, Not a word is wasted, nor is there a morsel out of place.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth about aspirational cooking 29 Jan. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is genuinely laugh aloud funny, with the proviso that you have to value Julian Barnes' style and precision with language. If you are someone who has found his short stories and novels over-intellectual and mannered, then leave this delight alone. The accuracy of his observations about recipes with imprecise ingredient amounts and the folly of expecting dishes enjoyed abroad to taste the same when cooked in damp England strikes a chord in my kitchen. Though I have never, unlike Barnes, bought a juicer, we probably all have machines and gadgets that have never delivered on their promises. Barnes spotlights the perils and delights of aspirational cooking with humour.
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Format:Kindle Edition
This short collection of essays is a real mixture. There are some hilarious moments which made me laugh and cringe simultaneously as I recognised my own pedantry depicted in cold hard prose, include Barnes' description of the annual cookery book cull (p25-32), or the corresponding inventory of the utensil drawer (p122) complete with giraffe-handled salad servers, deeply unhygienic-looking spatulas, an odd number of chopsticks and multi-pronged serving forks of dubious origin and purpose.

I enjoyed his rant about the onion dilemma – why do chefs consider them to only come in three sizes: small, medium and large? And how does one tell what constitutes a medium onion without first comparing it to all the others in the shop? (p21) And although in theory I am an advocate of supporting local butchers, fishmongers, green grocers etc, I’ve had enough exchanges with scornful specialists who make me feel like a cretin for asking what they deem to be obvious questions to agree that ‘The unlovely success of supermarkets is due to many factors, but eliminating a potentially awkward social exchange is by no means a minimal one.’ (p78)

And my favourite section of all came early on where he describes the imprecision of terminology such as lump, slug, drizzle etc (p19-20)

But for all the brilliance, there were also some rather dull moments, and little in the second half of the book made me smile as much as the first half. I guess Barnes and I just fish from different ponds. For example, I owe none of my culinary heritage (consciously at least) to Jane Grigson, so long and frequent heartfelt references to her work do nothing for me...

Nevertheless; if you are a foodie or a pedant, or both, there is enough in this short book for me to recommend it to you. Enjoy!

Read my full review here:
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Arrived in pristine condition
Published 2 months ago by Fat pig
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A most enjoyable book for people who love cooking and kitchens. Very witty.
Published 3 months ago by Marie Schoeman
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Mrs S Wilkinson
3.0 out of 5 stars overall probably worth the read but deeply frustrating as it could...
this was an excellent idea for a book and there is so much potential material to be used.

AIthough I really like the novels of Julian Barnes and think that he has... Read more
Published 6 months ago by hextol
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 11 months ago by Mrs. M Chatterton
4.0 out of 5 stars short but amusing
a brief but amusing book, well written by Julian Barnes as you might expect. No earth shattering insights into the human condition perhaps but that is OK.
Published 12 months ago by rizzer
3.0 out of 5 stars Food glorious food
Once upon a time, when he was only moderately famous, Julian Barnes wrote a column for The Guardian called The Pedant In The Kitchen. Read more
Published 13 months ago by MisterHobgoblin
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Fun
Very short - finished in a couple of hours. Very funny tho', and I recognised my own approach many times - good to know I'm not alone, and I may even have learned a bit!
Published 13 months ago by Stuart101
1.0 out of 5 stars Why?
Not the most entertaining read. More like an over long pedantic rant (ok clue is in the title). Just not convinced of its self indulgent purpose.
Published 17 months ago by Richard
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly funny
I enjoyed every minute of this book, it had me laughing out loud at times, and it rang many bells with my own culinary adventures. Read more
Published 17 months ago by AUBREY
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