It’s the closest I’ve come to generating a twitter firestorm – well, maybe more of a twitter firelog but it’s certainly the most tweets I’ve ever received in response to a query for an article I was writing, published in the Irish Examiner Weekend Magazine. The query? Name ten cookbooks you should own. And then the tweets began a-tumblin’ in. I even received an email furnishing his top ten from a man so profoundly allergic to the whole social media phenomenon, he was unable, physically, mentally or morally to respond with a tweet. But he is also a man who knows his onions, the 101 things you can do with them and a whole load of other foodstuffs besides, with a veritable library of fabulous cookbooks to bolster that knowledge.
Now, I’ve posted before on this site about some of my favourite cookbooks but even then I wrote that this is a fluid list, everchanging with new favourites enjoying a spell in the spotlight but underlying these, a hardcore of old favourites, always the ones I turn to in times of epicurean emotional crises. And it is rare these days that an old favourite is ever dislodged by a newcomer. It takes a quite exceptional book to worm its way to the inner sanctum – Darina Allen’s The Forgotten Skills of Cooking is the most recent to storm into a perpetual spot closest to my heart and, at that, I rarely trouble it for recipes so much as using it as a starting point for exploring these old traditions Darina writes about.
Well, the suggestions came pouring in and I shall list them all below but in the end I rather bottled it and avoided ten of my (current) personal favourites and tried to provide a list with something for all. By all, I meant three different categories of cook: the novice or beginner; the serious home chef; and finally the pro (or those who like to imagine they are pros!). After all, if you’re still not entirely certain how to boil an egg then you’ll hardly be wanting to dip your toast soldiers into Grant Schatz’s sous vide egg cubes.
Another interesting aspect of the ‘debate’ was the inclusion of quite a few books that are not exactly cookbooks but most serious cooks are likely to own eg: McGee on Cooking; Larousse Gastronomique; The Cook’s Book.
Of the final ten published in today’s Irish Examiner, three would be always there or thereabouts in my own list with another couple vying for a place as well. And what those are, I shall leave you to work out for yourselves.
Finally, it’s most certainly not a cookbook but is nonetheless essential to any Irish food lover and that’s the just-published 10th edition of John & Sally McKenna’s Irish Food Guide (formerly The Bridgestone Guide). I’ll make no apologies for touting the merits of a publication I have an involvement in as one of the national contributing editors because this is the definitive source guide for all those fine native ingredients you’ll be needing for those lovely recipes along with listing those places you can procure them, either in their raw state or cooked up for you by one of those ever-evolving coterie of magnificent cooks we have in Ireland.
Some of the cookbook tweets
JillianBolger Sep 26, 10:55am via Web
@jozeemac Leith’s Fish Bible/Madhur Jaffrey Word Vegetarian/Nigel Slater Kitchen Diaries/ Xanthe Clay Recipes to know by Heart (for newbies)
butchbuttery Sep 26, 7:40am via Web
@jozeemac My tops would be: Larousse Gastranomique, have 2 copies one current one 1964 & Recipes of all Nations by Countess Morphy
cattlenclydes Sep 25, 10:42pm via Twitter for iPhone
@jozeemac @Kitchen72 here’s my favourite cookbook, I know it’s not very posh but me and @Natasha47 from #gbbo love it. yfrog.com/odev6kaj
Kitchen72 Sep 25, 10:30pm via Web
@jozeemac ottolenghi, river cottage veg, nigel slater real fast food, forgotten skills (darina), french laundry #10cookbooksUshouldown
Jaq_Stedman Sep 25, 10:26pm via Web
@jozeemac I tend to have tatty bits of paper stuck into a book back in Aus from the Chefs I’ve met over the years – #Cheong Liew mostly
Umami5 Sep 25, 9:27pm via Tweetbot for iOS
@jozeemac Ideas in Food, Silver Spoon, Grand Livre de Cuisine, The Complete Robuchon, White Heat, Nico, Repertoire #10cookbooksUshouldown
rickmilnes Sep 25, 9:13pm via Twitter for iPhone
@jozeemac Ballymaloe cookery course. #top10
JLM_cork Sep 25, 9:12pm via Twitter for iPhone
@jozeemac @deshocks @eatlikeagirl paradise book 1. The yellow one. (Not just cos in in it!)
roseyod Sep 25, 9:05pm via Twitter for iPhone
@jozeemac 11 Madison park
FQchefess Sep 25, 9:00pm via Twitter for iPhone
@jozeemac la Rousse gastronomique the culinary encyclopaedia
Gas_mark_seven Sep 25, 8:57pm via Web
@jozeemac Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course Book #1 or even Forgotten Skills of Cooking.
foodforlivingie Sep 25, 8:57pm via Twitter for iPhone
@jozeemac ‘On food and cooking’ by Harold Mc Gee is always top. ‘Everyday’ river cottage and Eat good things’ @goodthingscafe next 🙂
hokeeffe99 Sep 25, 8:55pm via Twitter for iPhone
@jozeemac Darina’s recent book can’t remember name but old methods green hardback cover. Everything in it you’d need. More than recipes.
caramcdermott Sep 25, 8:52pm via Twitter for iPhone
@jozeemac @deshocks @eatlikeagirl Deirdre Madden Home economics book from school (recently reprinted by her daughters)
Alex22cash Sep 25, 8:47pm via Twitter for iPhone
@jozeemac Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills Ballymaloe Cookery course Elizabeth David’s cookbook River Cottage Veg Everyday Plenty Arabesque
Plus Tessa Kiros Apples For Jam Julia Child MtAoFC Nigella Lawson How To Eat Ottolenghi Jerusalem
lilclair Sep 25, 8:46pm via Web
@jozeemac absolute failsafe is darina’s meals in minutes. Frighteningly unhip but is filthy from use:)
renatemurphy Sep 25, 8:46pm via Twitter for iPhone
@jozeemac #10cookbooks the Leon cookbook, @avoca 1 & 2, Delia Smiths complete cookery, any or all of Darina & Rachel A pic.twitter.com/rsWgubm7
deshocks Sep 25, 8:44pm via Twitter for iPhone
@jozeemac Delia’s how to cook is absolutely indispensable. Also love @eatlikeagirl’s book