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Tasteful reads for the gourmet in your life

Tom Parker Bowles picks his favourite cookery books of the year

East Winds

by Riaz Phillips (£25, DK) West Winds: Recipes, History and Tales from Jamaica was one of my favourite books from last year. And East Winds, Phillips’s follow-up, is every bit as good. In it, he charts the foods of the Eastern Caribbean, and immigrant influences from North India, South China, West Africa and Europe. Beautifully written, it’s deeply personal, endlessly enlightening and makes me want to cook things I’ve never tried before.


by Alex Jackson (£30, Pavilion) What a clever, fascinating book this is, with Jackson delving into France’s borderlands, taking in everything from the Alps and Alsace to North Africa, the Riviera and the Southwest. These are permeable borders, the recipes often interchangeable with Germany and Tunisia, Italy and Spain. The writing is wonderful, the recipes sublime.


by Russell Norman (£32, Ebury) Polpo, the late author’s first book, was one of the great works on Venetian food. And with Brutto (meaning ‘ugly’ in Italian, but in a beautiful way), his final book is a triumph. Named after his wonderful restaurant in London’s Smithfield, this is a tribute to the city of Florence and its cooking. I love the prose, the design, the photographs and the recipes. As simple and satisfying as a bowl of ribollita.

Invitation toa Banquet

by Fuchsia Dunlop (£25, Particular) I devour every word Dunlop writes on the cooking of China, and her new book is no exception. Each chapter takes a classic dish (steamed rice, loving mother’s red braised pork) and delves deep into the ingredients, history, philosophy and technique. The writing is as fine as ever, the scholarship exemplary and the depth profound. This is, perhaps, her masterpiece.

Ramen Forever

by Tim Anderson

(£26, Hardie Grant)

What is ramen, asks Anderson in his latest work on Japanese culinary genres. It is, as he admits, a ‘complicated subject’. But the book has everything you’ll ever need to know about this great noodle dish. Good recipes, too. In short, the English-language ramen bible. (£28, 4th Estate)

As much a work of gentle contemplation as a cookbook, this is a beautiful, soothing distillation of a lifetime of cooking, writing and thinking about food. ‘Cut yourself some slack’ is one chapter heading, ‘Treat cooking as a remedy (because it is)’ is another. Wise, pragmatic and quietly learned, this book is filled with recipes you’ll use time and time again.

The Upstairs Delicatessen

by Dwight Garner (£21.50, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

This very funny book, partly autobiographical and wholly delectable, was recommended by a novelist friend. Which is fitting, as Garner is a book critic for The New York Times and he writes of the endless pleasures of food and reading. His writing is as cool and elegant as a tall glass of milk, his literary references both sacred and profane. For me, he’s up there with A J Liebling and Calvin Trillin as an American foodwriting master. More, please. (£25, Pavilion) One of those rare charity compilations, in aid of the magnificent Magic Breakfast, that is impossible to put down. By Jane Hodson and Lucas Hollweg, with photographs from Clerkenwell Boy, it’s filled with the food memories (and recipes) of everyone from Jamie Oliver and Raymond Blanc to Asma Khan, Andi Oliver and Stanley Tucci, plus many more. One to really tuck into.





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