The best cookbooks according to the experts

two cookbooksMaking a list of the best cookbooks might be a recipe for starting an argument, but in a recent article from The Guardian, a few intrepid chefs and food writers responded to the challenge. The listing of essential cookbooks was a response to the Prue Leith cookbook controversy - one of several such responses. Leith's dismissal of modern cookbooks led many top chefs and authors to champion the cause. In the article, a handful of authors talk about the cookbooks most important to each of them.

Raymond Blanc chose French writer and scientist Édouard de Pomiane's Cooking in Ten Minutes, which was considered avant garde when it was published in 1930. For Blanc, this "is the most beautiful book of cuisine ever, cooking with speed and purity. He was a visionary, definitely ahead of his time; he saw that life was speeding up."

Claudia Roden has inspired countless people to try alternative cuisines. So who did she turn to for inspiration? Her inspirations were two of the most influential cookbook authors of all time, Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson. Roden feels that David "was writing so beautifully, adding such value to the recipes - it made it feel as though it all really mattered." Grigson was an even bigger influence on Roden, as Grigson "put what she called 'background' to a recipe." Others who weighed in for the article include Jack Monroe and Rachel Roddy.

1 Comment

  • veronicafrance  on  8/30/2015 at 4:33 PM

    It's lovely to see so many of my old favourites in that article. Many of the contributors seem to be supporting Leith's point, though. Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson, Pomiane -- no glossy pictures and wordy, explicit instructions. All three of them were writing for competent, confident cooks who didn't need everything spelled out and definitely didn't need a photo of what the result was "supposed" to look like. Yet these writers knew exactly which details to include in order to avoid pitfalls -- for example Pomiane tells you to add a tiny quantity of flour to gratin dauphinois to stop the cream splitting. I smiled at the "No Delia?" comments on the article. I don't have anything against Saint Delia, but I wouldn't expect professional chefs and cookbook authors to name her as one of their favourites.

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