Hairy Bikers Ride Again
A Book Review by Franz Scheurer
Take a make-up artist specializing in prosthetics and a film and television locations manager and send them forth on a couple of bikes to write a cookbook and host a cooking show for the BBC – why not, it’s no crazier than some of the cooking shows we’ve been fed over the years? But is it any good?
The idea of combining two of my favourite things (motorbikes and food) made me pick up the book and leaf through it, and, a few seconds later, I bought it and was hooked.
Dave Myers and Si King ride through India, Argentina, Belgium and Morocco and present a credible view from the saddle and an interesting perspective from behind the pans. There is no doubt that these guys can cook and can recognize fresh and locally relevant ingredients. Furthermore, they manage to get inside the heads of the people they meet.
The book is divided into the four countries and each country is divided into stories and recipes. In India they survive chaotic traffic from Chennai across to Cochin and down to Alappuzha. As they pick up friends on the way they perfect their Indian recipes and ‘Lamb Chop Pakoras’ is an impressively simple dish for a crowd. Their adaptation of a traditional recipe for ‘Cardamom Chicken’ is spicy with layered taste sensations and definitely worth a try at home. In Argentina they ride from Buenos Aires, via San Antonio de Areco all the way down to Punta Tombo (ouch!) and partake in the country’s obsession with meat and the tango. They impress with a simple recipe for ‘Arepas’ a cornmeal scone and however many ‘Beef Empanadas’ you cook, there will never be quite enough. They show us how to make ‘Dulche de Leche’ (sweet milk) and then guide us through the making and baking of ‘Julie’s Dulche de Leche Cheesecake’. The trip to Belgium is beer, chips and mayo inspired, though they manage to sound halfway convincing that there were another couple of reasons why they went there. The recipes for ‘Cheese Croquettes’ and ‘Ardennes Pork Chops with Cider and Caramelised Apples’ go surprisingly well with Trappist beer. The last country they visit is Morocco and their stories make you want to pack your bags and head for the airport. They really do have a gift for making a culture come alive. Moroccan life is centred around the home and the sharing of meals is one of the most important pillars of society, bonding the strong sense of family and tribe. (Has our Western civilisation ever realized just what they lost with the inroads of fast food and TV dinners?). The traditional recipes, like the ‘Harira’, a hearty soup or the ‘Cheese and Honey Briouats’, deep-fired, yummy pastry parcels, are excellent, however this is also the section where I discovered a recipe for lamb with strawberries, mint and balsamic vinegar that you don’t really need to visit; try the ‘Pastilla’ instead, it’s a winner!
To sum up: if you ride you must buy this book. If you’re interested in different cultures and how they live, you must buy this book. If you’re a foodie you can’t afford not to have it.
Published by Penguin