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Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for cooks who think - or want to!, 14 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Full of Flavour: Create . . . How to Think Like a Chef (Hardcover)
The contents of this book have been more than adequately covered in other reviews. I want to tell why I like it and, hopefully, identify like-minded home cooks who should also add it to their collection.

I have a lot of very good cookbooks, and literally thousands of recipes to chose from every day. Great! - isn't it? Well, no - because I'd become lazy. With access to so much information I tended to pick a main ingredient, found a recipe I fancied, and shopped for it. I'd stopped really thinking about my food and fitted my menu into somebody else's pigeon-hole.

Maria Elia's book challenges this approach by taking you through the thought processes she goes through professionally when devising a dish. With a section for her 18 favourite main ingredients, each section starts with a mind-map illustrating some associations conjured-up by a particular ingredient. Then, using her knowledge of flavours, Maria presents several recipes based on the ingredient, together with suggested variations and some explanatory text about the flavour combinations chosen. I use "The Flavour Thesaurus" by Niki Segnit to help me with this phase of devising a recipe. The book concludes with a section listing each recipe with a sample mind-map postulating different flavour and texture combinations to change the recipe. There is also space for you to jot down your own mind-map for the recipe variations.

This wonderful book succeeds on every level. The design and presentation by Kyle Books is quirky but extremely attractive and effective. It also works as yet another recipe book. The recipes are interesting, modern, full of flavour, and, although not too difficult, most will challenge less-experienced cooks. They are restaurant quality rather than Jamie's 15 Minutes. But, to me, the essential value of this book is that it inspires you to create by optimising what you already know and ensuring that your kitchen experience gradually and painlessly improves and grows. Rather than cooking what you are told to cook, you learn how to create an infinite selection of dishes, and how to adapt them to available ingredients.

Beginners would not find this book immediately useful, it does assume a few skills and quite considerable knowledge. It also has a few typos that seem to upset some people more than others. However, those with some experience, who are finding cooking more of a chore than the pleasure it used to be, will find that this book could set them well on the way to recovery. I will certainly be using it for years to come. It will save me a fortune in buying cookbooks - Enjoy!
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