The REAL FOOD Companion
By Matthew Evans
A Book Review by Franz Scheurer
The Real Food Companion is a beautiful book with outstanding photography by Alan Benson and superb design and print by the team at Murdoch Books, and of course great text and recipes by Matthew Evans. It’s rare that all the planets align, yet they did for this book!
I would like to quote Matthew from the Prologue, as this really does set the tone for this work: “What matters with food, as in most things, isn’t quantity, but quality. If we must eat meat then what matters is how an animal is reared, how it is handled and that it is used efficiently. Then, of course, what matters if you inherit my intolerance for poor flavour, is how it tastes. What matters is how the land is left after we eat, and just how good each meal is that we take from her soil.”
This book is not just about recipes, it’s about philosophy; a thinking man’s cookbook.
The book is divided into: Dairy, Grains, pulses & flours, Poultry & eggs, Meat, Seafood, Vegetables, Fruit, Wild food, nuts olives & oils and finally Sweet foods. Each section starts with an in-depth description of the produce and how it should be handled and used.
The recipes in the book range from old-fashioned and conventional to modern and edgy, but never lose the thread of ‘good taste’. I love the ‘Baked nutmeg custard’ on page 40; it’s the kind of custard you can’t buy. Amongst his explanations in the Dairy section, the ‘Clotted cream’ is explained on page 54, and a recipe is given on page 61. I really do think that clotted cream is one of the neglected items and it’s time someone resurrected it. If you want it hearty you can hardly go past the ‘Lamb shank and pearl barley soup’ on page 109 and I can almost smell the ‘Homemade bacon baked beans’ on page 120. ‘Coq au vin’, an time-tested recipe gets a new lease on page 168 and the simplicity of the ‘Shredded duck salad’ is its secret on page 179. With winter approaching the ‘Beef shin daube’ hits the spot on page 227, and if you love pork (who doesn’t?) you should try the ‘Roast pork with crackling’ on page 276. Matthew cooked whiting fillets for me once and they are sill the best I have ever tasted and the ‘Crumbed whiting with parsley sauce’ on page 322 is a must-try. If you have a sweet tooth there is a huge section that will grab your attention and I love his recipe for ‘Baked quince’.
A terrific index helps you find a specific item quickly and this is really the one food companion you must have.
Available now in good book stores at RRP $ 89.95