The Food I Love – Neil Perry – A Book Review
By Franz Scheurer
I’m a morning person and while the rest of the house is still fast asleep I indulge in reading cookbooks. This is how most mornings start and it’s a wonderful hour of uninterrupted culinary enjoyment. I finally finished Neil Perry’s THE FOOD I LOVE and here is what I think:
THE FOOD I LOVE is a designer’s dream. From slick, modern cover, via superb photography to a glorious, purpose-built font, this book has design coherence and integrity. And, like a dish of food, a cookbook’s first appeal is visual.
THE FOOD I LOVE is many things: it’s a recipe book with recipes that work - food that can be reproduced at home! It’s a ‘how to’ guide to simple challenges, such as trussing a chook or filleting a fish, a reference book on how to recognise, treat and use ingredients. It’s about food with soul and about flavours and textures that in many ways echo Australia’s cultural diversity - an insight into the clever combination of flavour with texture, which, like a good wine/food match enhances the sum of its parts. It’s as much a slick coffee table book as it should be a fat-splattered journal of your travels through the recipes.
What I like most is that it’s approachable. It documents Perry’s personal culinary journey: a naturally changing palate, a history of honing gastronomic skills and a homecoming to the essence of food. It’s a remarkably honest account of what pushes Neil Perry’s buttons.
In the introduction Perry credits his dad with teaching him to taste, to question, to care for produce and to develop a palate that is the driving force in his life, as well as giving him an understanding that eating is for pleasure, not for fuel. To quote Perry: “I learnt that if food was thought about, then it was remembered and it is this that makes me who I am today”. This sentence really is the key to the book.
The book is divided into:
Light Breakfast, Eggs, Sandwiches, Salads, Soups, Pasta and Rice, Seafood, Meat and Poultry, Accompaniments, Sauces and More, and Desserts.
I particularly like the thoroughness in the Sauces and More section and I love the simplicity and authenticity of the pasta recipes. No cream in the Carbonara recipe in this book! Try Perry’s method for slow roasting; especially for chicken and you’ll be reminded why chicken used to be the ‘Sunday meat’.
THE FOOD I LOVE is a book that everyone should own. More to the point, it’s a book that everyone should read. I love it and with Christmas around the corner it will make a fabulous gift.
THE FOOD I LOVE
Published by Murdoch Books Pty. Ltd.
ISBN 1 74045 717 X