Saturday, March 12, 2011

Roast Chicken and Other Stories

If a cookbook author could be a soulmate, then I think Simon Hopkinson is mine. His Roast Chicken and Other Stories practically floated off the library bookshelf into my hands - who could resist such a beguiling title?

As I started reading, I marvelled at how many things we have in common: his penchant for eggplants and for salty things (a whole chapter dedicated to anchovies!); his firm insistence that butter and olive oil are most certainly not interchangeable ("If a dish needs butter, it gets butter; if it needs olive oil, it gets olive oil"); his tendency to be mesmerized by the sight of a chicken slowly turning golden brown in the oven; his unshakeable devotion to cream.

"I do believe," he writes, "against all the odds, that cream will be with us for a long time yet, despite its well-known high-cholesterol content. After all, who in their heart of hearts would want to be without crème brûlée, the best vanilla ice cream, or clotted cream on a scone with strawberry jam?"

Sigh. Who, indeed?  Definitely not me.

Best of all is his light-hearted attitude towards food. He manages to walk the fine line between loving it and not taking it too seriously. "It is far better to cook food for your friends that you enjoy eating yourself....Carefully prepared and simple dishes are an asset to a good lunch or dinner party. The food should not dominate the proceedings. Rather, it should enchance and liven the occasion."

I'm so glad I found you, Simon. I'm looking forward to cooking with you.


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