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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good things...
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...
Published on 4 Dec. 2003

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3.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed his rant about the onion dilemma – why do ...
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...
Published 9 months ago by LT


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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
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Pedant In The Kitchen (Kindle Edition)
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
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
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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
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This review is from: The Pedant In The Kitchen (Kindle Edition)
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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3.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed his rant about the onion dilemma – why do ..., 29 Sept. 2014
This review is from: The Pedant In The Kitchen (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:

http://leavenonearth.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/the-pedant-in-the-kitchen-by-julian-barnes/
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3.0 out of 5 stars Food glorious food, 19 May 2014
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MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Pedant In The Kitchen (Kindle Edition)
Once upon a time, when he was only moderately famous, Julian Barnes wrote a column for The Guardian called The Pedant In The Kitchen. The idea was that a “Late Onset Cook” would slavishly adhere to recipes and run aghast at the idea of improvisation in the kitchen. This book bring together those columns into a single (very) slim volume padded with pictures.

The concept appealed to me – I am an enthusiastic cook and would happily spend a day following recipes of some considerable complication. I do so to the letter; I see cooking as a co-production between myself as the technician and the writer as the conceptualiser. I think there’s a dose of art on both parts, but I know I will never be able to generate my own culinary ideas.

It was therefore reassuring to find Julian Barnes to be a soulmate. He has an obvious care and passion to put out the best food he possibly can. He too will adopts one or two recipes in a book whilst leaving many untested for no obvious reason. And he shares my frustration at imprecise wording or processes that are logistically impossible (such as the instruction to cook pork chops and halved endives face down in the same pan at the same time). It was even more heartening to find it all written with a delightful, self-deprecating humour. Julian Barnes’s recipe books are very much of his generation – Sophie Grigson and Elizabeth David rather than the names that fill my shelves – and he spends rather longer talking about soufflés than he might. What even is a soufflé? .

However, the columns run out of steam. After the initial rantings against specific recipes and specific writers, we depart into name dropping where Barnes discusses recipes with the various celebrity chefs, even eats at their homes. Then, in a futile attempt to breathe life into the series, Barnes falls back on cookery as discussed in literature. The series ends with a sort of whimper as Barnes tells us he’d rather be in his kitchen, trying out something new. By this point, so too are his readers.

The Pedant In The Kitchen is worth reading, is funny and is very human. The home cook will see himself or herself in at least some of the descriptions. The work will not take long to read, may not leave a deep impression, but will offer reassurance that what we try in the kitchen is OK. It’s OK to muff things up. It’s OK to buy stuff in. The only way to fail would be to stop trying.
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3.0 out of 5 stars overall probably worth the read but deeply frustrating as it could have been a lot better., 6 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: The Pedant In The Kitchen (Kindle Edition)
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 written some wonderful and clever books, felt that this was far from being included in that category.

Admittedly there were some observations which were both wonderfully acurate and funny in a wry way, but the book never seemed to really get off the ground and failed to develop a consistent stance or approach It was more a series of unrelated observations rather than the promised pedant's view which, if he had kept to that, may have been a lot better

It needed a bit more bite to fully engage the reader. As it was, i read it with muted enjoyment which, coming from a keen cook, is pretty damning.
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The Pedant In The Kitchen by Julian Barnes
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