Me and my cookbooks - William Sitwell

Many EYB members have told us they enjoy meeting members and special guests through the "Me and my cookbooks" feature. We'd love to introduce more people, so if you'd like to be featured, just email us at info@eatyourbooks.com . This month's edition features William Sitwell, one of Britain's foremost food writers. Sitwell has edited Waitrose Kitchen and its predecessor Waitrose Food Illustrated for many years, and is the author of A History of Food in 100 Recipes. Sitwell shared his love of cookbooks with The Happy Foodie, and we hope you enjoy this excerpt from that discussion.

Sitwell's bookshelf

There are three areas at my home in Northamptonshire where I keep my cook and food books. There are the shelves in the library - a dark red room with a barrel-vaulted ceiling designed by the illustrator and painter Glynn Boyd Hart as a homage to the breakfast parlour of the Soane museum in London. Along two walls are books by my literary ancestors - Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell - along with Edith's own collection of books, as well as a travel section, biographies, art and music. The cookbooks are some of my favourites, spanning Stephane Reynaud's Pork and Sons, Marcella Hazan's The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and Caroline Conran's Poor Cook (a present from her son Tom). The books tend to stay on the shelves, although whenever I pass by I make a shallow pledge to myself to move one to the kitchen.

For that is where the second lot live. In a cabinet over four shelves live the books we actually use, regularly. There's Nigella's awesome How to Eat, Simon Hopkinson's charming Roast Chicken and other Stories (voted - with a little help from me - The Most Useful Cookbook of All Time, in the magazine I edit some years ago) and Jane Hornby's brilliant What to Cook and How to Cook It. And there is the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book always reliable for sauces, classic cakes, virtually everything - and equally good is the Ballymaloe Cookery Course.

Read more at The Happy Foodie site, including a discussion of Sitwell's "favourite stash" of cookbooks in a room accessed through a secret door.

Photo of William Sitwell's book collection by Vanessa Kimbell courtesy of The Happy Foodie

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