Customer Review

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really what I expected..., 29 Jan 2012
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This review is from: The River Cafe Cookbook: Bk. 2 (Hardcover)
The format of this book appears a little outdated; it is the standard "recipe plus photo" format of cookbook - very little background information (such as how the recipe was created, whether it's traditional Italian or a modern interpretation etc...). In this respect, it doesn't really teach you how to cook Italian food, it just gives you the recipes for Italian food. I feel that a good cookbook should cover the historical context of both the culture and the recipes which it is sharing - this book does neither. (Approximately 1 in 3 recipes have accompanying photos of the finished dish).

The recipes are fairly simplistic - it includes an entire chapter on how to oven-roast vegetables. Most of the soups are constructed by "putting all the above ingredients in a pan"; I was hoping for something more technically challenging (such as gniocci or tortellini). This is mainly why I'm disappointed with the book - I hoped it would contain something more technically demanding or unique.

The instructions for the recipes are leaning towards the "non-human", methodical form of step-by-step instructions; it tells you how to combine the ingredients, but there's no indication of what the mixture should look like at each stage, or explanation of why they should be combined in this way. The instructions are "minimalist" at best.

On the plus side, most of the recipes involve a small number of ingredients, which is of benefit to most home-cooks. However the majority of recipes involve (very) seasonal produce (e.g strawberries, broad beans, artichokes etc...), which makes actually planning what you're going to cook slightly more complicated (it does not give any guidance as to when things are in season). If you were to randomly select a recipe and go to your local supermarket to find the ingredients, a certain amount of luck would be involved if you were to find everything - not that the ingredients are obscure, just very seasonal.

I bought this second hand (at a low cost), so I'm not too disappointed with the purchase; it's still an interesting addition to a collection of cookbooks. However, had I purchased this at full cost, I would've been more disappointed.
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