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Digital Subscriptions > delicious. Magazine > November 2018 > “My favourite food book of all time”

“My favourite food book of all time”

A good cookbook is about so much more than recipes. It’s about memory, culture, time and place, discovery, sharing… about being human. We asked 15 chefs, cooks and food writers to share the books that have inspired them


When I was writing my first cookery book, English Seafood Cookery (Penguin), in 1987, Jane Grigson’s Fish Cookery (David & Charles, 1973) was both an inspiration and a source of complete misery, as I realised I could never write such a book myself. I guess some people regard it as a bit worthy because there are no pictures and few illustrations, but in those days serious cookery books were like that. It had some wonderful writing and comprehensive coverage of matjes, herrings, croakers and weever fish. I was lucky enough to meet Jane; she came to Padstow and ate in the restaurant, and for me it was a bit like Bob Dylan popping in for Dover sole. Then I discovered she was a judge for the Glenfiddich Awards, and I won the prize. Rick Stein’s latest book is The Road to Mexico (BBC Books £26)


It’s a cruel thing to make those of us who love cooking, love eating and love reading about food choose just one book! But so long as you allow me a little grumbling space and the merest mention of favourites you’re forcing me to jettison, I will do my best. I can’t imagine any bookshelf of mine without books by Claudia Roden. I can serendipitously pick one up off a shelf and be absorbed and inspired for happy hours. And The Cook’s Companion (Viking) by Stephanie Alexander, which was first published in Australia in 1996 and is still vibrantly fresh, is a book I couldn’t (and won’t) contemplate living without.

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About delicious. Magazine

Buy the November issue of delicious. magazine and celebrate our 15th birthday along with Michel Roux Jr, Henry Harris, Gill Meller, Tom Aiken, Mary Berry, Anna Del Conte and Annie Rigg. Eric Lanlard cooks a birthday cake, of course and everyone’s in the party mood with our simple cocktails and top wine recommendations. Find out which cookbook most inspired Nigella, Rick, Yotam, Prue and more. Plus, it’s not too early to start thinking about Christmas – see our gift guide for brilliant gift ideas and pick your favourite get-ahead Christmas bakes.