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Great Cooking, but is it really for kids?
on 31 December 2004
Firstly, this is a great book - right up there with my all-time favourite cooking books. There are some inspirational recipes in there, and even the apparently more traditional ones are discussed in such thorough detail beforehand that you are forced to think through the whole process of preparation and cooking. It really does make you regard these recipes in a new light. Having just acquired a digital temperature probe, I'm especially keen to try the low-temperature cooking that Blumenthal champions.
The only quibble I have with the book is that for one that claims to be aimed at getting children involved in cooking, I could find very few practical techniques or methods or recipes for achieving this. There's a fair bit of theoretical discussion about the merits of getting children involved in cookery, which I fully endorse. There are also some interesting food tasting experiments, which kids could find fun (and so could adults!) Apart from that, though, the other references to children are almost exclusively about simply urging the reader to get their children involved, about how much Blumenthal's own children enjoy a particular recipe, or how they themselves enjoyed making it. Mr Blumenthal is lucky - I can't imagine my own children tackling those particular recipes (too daunting), and some more specifically children-oriented recipes would have been nice. Blumenthal does explicitly distance himself from "gimmicky...happy parent monthly magazine" style recipes in the foreword, but I can't help feeling that in trying to avoid that particular trap he's swung the pendulum too far the other way.
Nonetheless, for adults it's a great book. Don't hesitate to buy it.