I don’t usually review cookbooks, mainly because I don’t really read a lot of cookbooks. In the age of the internet, where a few strokes of keypad will provide you with a recipe for pretty much anything, is there any point in wasting valuable shelf space with bulky cookbooks?
Despite holding this opinion, I am also a Masterchef obsessive, and when I spotted the latest tome by presenter John Torode (is that the name of a sex toy? It sounds like the name of a sex toy), I knew I just had to have a look.
Another key draw was the name. My Kind of Food has that annoyingly wholesome ring to it that’s so easy to immediately distrust as an irritating branding exercise, but I totally fell for it. His kind of food must be my kind of food: I too share the same scornful but slightly fond feelings towards the oafish Greg Wallace, and I am equally keen on flavour and texture in my food. So why not? I bit the bullet and bought the book.
Surprisingly, this is a remarkably easy read for a cookbook. John doesn’t go in for overlong explanations as to the history of his recipes; introductions to each are brief, sometimes comprising of just a short sentence, with the bulk of the book being dedicated to gorgeous, Instagram worthy pictures of everything from fancy desserts through to homely pasta dishes. There’s even some snaps of someone’s (possibly John’s) house, and some cheesy photos of the man himself merrily cooking away, as if to prove that he actually does, occasionally, crack an egg himself.
Unlike a lot of modern cookbooks most of the ingredients are household staples, making this book ideal for a quick loaf through on a weeknight. There are some recipes which clearly follow food trends (anyone over 50 actually heard of polenta? No, that’s cos cornmeal was renamed that in the past ten years), and some which use very obscure ingredients (honestly, who on earth has edible rice paper to hand?!), but many recipes are easy to amend. The emphasis here is on recipes that are accessible and appeal to the masses. As a father of four John must be used to cooking for a hungry mob, and these dishes are designed to be relatively quick and crowd pleasing.
Overall this aim is achieved, and the clear, concise writing combined with the multitude of pictures and handy guides to when things are done make this a cookbook which is both useful for when you’re in a rush and actually enjoyable to flick through when you have some spare time.