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The Plagiarist in the Kitchen Hardcover – 6 Apr 2017
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"A wonderful cookbook . . . defiantly and hilariously unprecious, even as it demonstrates on every page the author’s discernment as a gourmet. Periodically Meades erupts in wittily splenetic denunciations of holier-than-thou food ist rhetoric. [The Plagiarist in the Kitchen] instantiates a philosophy of food that is wiser and cleverer than anything you will read under the burgeoning academic rubric of “philosophy of food”." (Guardian)
"Meades returns now as defiant, playful, and possibly punch drunk as ever . . . The Plagiarist in the Kitchen is a cookbook in the mode of, say, The Futurist Cookbook, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, or a good old-fashioned M. F. K. Fisher." (Times Literary Supplement)
"Meades is one of our most eloquent and excellent iconoclasts . . . Although the prose is as opinionated and elegant as you'd expect, this is a brilliant, magnificently old-fashioned cookbook." (Mail on Sunday)
"The Plagiarist in the Kitchen is hilariously grumpy, muttering at us “Don’t you bastards know anything?” You can read it purely for literary pleasure, but Jonathan Meades makes everything sound so delicious that the non-cook will be moved to cook and the bad cook will cook better."" (Best Summer Reads Guardian)
"Witty, forthright and full of excellent recipes. A welcome companion for self-catering holidays." (Summer Reads Spectator)
"Meades reasonably observes that 'no one reads a cookbook cover to cover', but for obvious reasons I did this one, and I don't regret it. It is quite the funniest I've read." (Sunday Telegraph)
"Meades was for 15 years from 1986 the restaurant critic of the Times, a calling he approached with polymathic wit, much copied, rarely bettered . . . The Plagiarist in the Kitchen is a personal food odyssey, a book of recipes, each with a story of how he came by it, and why exactly he is passing it off as his own." (Observer)
"The Plagiarist in the Kitchen, an intriguing read as any Meades follower will suppose – peppered with digressions, spleen, literary references, jests and arcane knowledge – is also a repository of sound European recipes." (Evening Standard)
"Meades is a hugely entertaining writer and the book is peppered with anecdotes and contrarian statements: "So far as I can recall I have not eaten guacamole," is just one example." (Restaurant Magazine)
"Meades has been compared, favourably, to Rabelais and, flatteringly, to Swift. The truth is that he outstrips both in the gaudiness of his imagination." (Henry Hitchings Times Literary Supplement)
An uncompromising anti-cookbook from the inimitable food critic and essayist Jonathan Meades, featuring 125 ‘borrowed’ recipes and insights from a life spent writing about food.See all Product description
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I am glad he did. A companion rather than a cookbook and ofcourse likeall great works of culinary literature absolutely no photography.
The book is a typical Meads production: clever, provocative, very opinionated and splenetic. He has the same opinion of television cooks as I do, humourless and repetitive. In fact, this is a thinly disguised anti cookbook. Meads has no time for healthy eating. He argues persuasively that there is no such thing as original cooking. It's all plagiarised. How right he is.
Some of his suggestions are superb, for example, dried orange peel in stock and bitter chocolate in stews.His recipe for hare is hilarious. He gives us his golden rules for cooking. Buy this and discover them.
A very entertaining book bulging with wit, his description of English sausages is a gem. Meads is an eccentric. I wish there were more like him.
PLEASE RETURN TO "THE TIMES", THEY REALLY NEED YOUR CRITIQUE AND HUMOUR.
CURRENT INCUMBENTS ARE NO WHERE NEAR YOU WRITING.
PHOTOGRAPHS ...... WELL I WILL IGNORE THEM.
And so it goes for this extraordinary cookbook. The author describes it as an “anti-cookbook, … an explicit paean to the avoidance of culinary originality, … to the daylight robbery of recipes … It’s all theft. Anyone who claims to have ‘invented’ a dish is dishonest or delusional or foaming”. Later, he goes on to say “this is not a book for fine diners – an anagram of tossers”.
Normally, when I review a cookbook, I try out a representative number of the recipes, comment ease of cooking them, on the pictures, on the accessibility of the ingredients, and the general approach of the book. So far I have not cooked anything from this book, but definitely plan on doing so. Instead of cooking, I just wallowed in his prose – and kept reading choice bits out to my husband. Meades on olive oil: “’Extra-virgin’ might be a desirable quality in nuns… but applied to olive oil it is close to meaningless…. Various degrees of chastity have spread to other oils”. On tomatoes: “The idea here is to retain the flavour of the tomatoes that, with luck, will taste like tomatoes before they stopped tasting of tomatoes and were grown hydroponically in Holland, home of the flavourless” and “Halve the tomatoes and deseed them – keep the seed and jelly so that it can loiter unloved in the fridge for a few weeks before developing mould and getting chucked”.
Meades is very concerned with using high quality ingredients, and with avoiding unnecessary embellishments. Some common ingredients should never be included: “Never use English sausage ‘meat’. If an English sausage is slurry in a condom, English sausage ‘meat’ is unprotected slurry. Beware: Sausage Transmitted Diseases are epidemic…don’t be fooled – a chipolata is slurry in a kiddy’s condom”. He gives advice on how to procure some of the less common ingredients: “It’s up to the curious reader to track down a supply of fresh blood … Offering your body to abattoir workers will usually do the trick”, and “Catch your eel. No, don’t”. We once bought an eel to cook in Italy, and not until we got it back to the caravan, did we discover that it was still alive. The author’s description of how to kill and skin the eel perfectly described the ensuing trauma.
The pictures are black and white abstract “monochrome treyfs” (?) which bear no relationship that I could discern to the food. The ingredients range from the prosaic eggs, onions and potatoes to the either impossible to get (vesiga – “dried spinal chord of sturgeon”) or the way outside the budget. Still, luckily most ingredients are obtainable with some effort.
There is a wide range of recipes, a lot of classics such as Pot au Feu (“A crock of folklore and some very bogus science is attached to this dish. Ignore”), Risotto, Cassoulet and Lancashire Hotpot. To my delight, there are four recipes for tripe amid a wonderful section on offal.
I would really love to go to a meal cooked by Jonathon Meade, though I am not sure I could cope with his razor-sharp wit in person. I am sure he would not want me anywhere near his kitchen or dining room.
This book is so much more than just a cookbook. It is extremely readable – even for someone not obsessed with food and recipes. At the bottom of each alternate page are the admonishments: “Don’t walk away … Concentrate … F*** the guests … and all that conviviality malarkey … … Stock! … Get treatment for squeamishness … Vegetarianism is curable”
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