The Pedant in the Kitchen Paperback – 13 May 2004
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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
'The funniest piece of food writing - my own theoretical metier - that you will ever read'. Giles Coren, The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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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.
It is frankly hilarious, especially the chapter entitled "No, we won't do that". Cookbook writers take note
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:
It was really refreshing for me to learn that there are others (or at least one other person) who worries that their recipe will be affected because they don't know the difference between a rounded and a heaped teaspoon.
The perfect book for the smallest room or whilst you are waiting for your egg to boil.
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