Christmas Gift Guide 2016: Books

28th November 2016

Words: James Hansen
Photographs: Dan Dennison

This carefully selected list – 10 great food books that have been recommended to us over the past 12 months – coincides with the launch of The Gannet’s brand-new online shop. Now you can buy directly from us rather than being redirected to other far-less-exciting online retailers. Each purchase comes with a free copy of our limited-edition Fork in the Road magazine. And by purchasing books (and more) here, you’ll help us keep The Gannet aloft and soaring to ever greater heights in the year ahead. Thanks for your support!

Land of Fish and Rice, Fuchsia Dunlop Buy from
We spent a morning with Fuchsia Dunlop this summer, shortly before the publication of her brilliant fifth cookbook, and she cooked us three dishes from it, including steamed pork with salted mackerel and pak choy with dried shrimps. Land of Fish and Rice focuses on the Lower Yangtze region, known in Chinese as Jiangnan. “It’s one of the richest gastronomic regions of China,” she says, “but almost unknown as a region outside the country. Historically, you can argue it’s the birthplace of what we think of as Chinese cuisine.” This book is the best imaginable tribute to the region’s food.

Food for All Seasons, Oliver Rowe Buy from
This book by English chef and writer Oliver Rowe is, as Kylee Newton puts it, “more of a novel about a chef than a recipe book”. While the recipes are generous, inventive and delicious to a fault, its crowning glory is Oliver’s writing, which gracefully winds its way through the calendar with a genuine reverence for what nature puts in front of us. Incidentally, we did a Q&A with Oliver this year and he recently took over our Instagram to showcase his Apacuka pop-up in Budapest. As you would expect, the menu was littered with seasonal dishes – a brussels sprout salad with caramelised paprika walnuts standing out, not just for its beautiful shot framed by a Hungarian strawberry patch.


Savour, Peter Gordon Buy from
When we visited Peter Gordon at his bright, art-filled house in London Fields, white shelves groaned under scores of cookery books. His own creation, Savour, heralds the often-overlooked salad. There are no limp leaves nor over-salted dressings to be found here: each page bursts with vibrant colour and we can attest to the deliciousness of dishes like kale couscous; freekeh with swiss chard; and celeriac with pear, satsuma and fennel.

Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome, Rachel Roddy Buy from
Recommended by Kylee Newton, Five Quarters is the début book from Rachel Roddy, an English food writer who went to Rome for a brief holiday and never left. Weaving family-style recipes with involving anecdotes about Roman life as told through food, for Kylee, it’s simple: “it makes you want to cook.” Precise instructions paired with beautiful prose make for a cookbook as gratifying to follow as it is to read, perhaps with a slice of Rachel’s persimmon, ricotta & olive oil cake.

Honey From A Weed, Patience Gray Buy from
Of Jeremy Lee’s many cookbook recommendations, this is one we can definitely vouch for, having devoured it hungrily last summer. Originally published in 1986, it comes with the explanatory subtitle Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades and Apulia. “This is a book that Clarissa Dickson Wright (who ran Books for Cooks at the time) made me buy – above all others,” says Jeremy. “Recipes for the cook – metaphors, poetry, beautifully sculpted. If you want to understand what the true art of foraging is, this is the book for you.”


First Bite, Bee Wilson Buy from
This excellent book by the food historian Bee Wilson, who we interviewed in October, looks at the psychology of eating and how food habits can change even in adulthood. Wilson always writes with great insight and verve (her last book Consider the Fork was a hugely compelling history of kitchen implements) and this new work is no exception.

Gather, Gill Meller Buy from
Seasonality is the word du jour when it comes to cookbooks. Gill Meller, head chef at River Cottage, takes it on with a keen, generous focus on the landscapes in which he works. From land to sea, marsh to moor, 120 recipes reflect a cooking style utterly indebted to its sense of place.

Rum: The Manual, Dave Broom Buy from
Dave Broom looks at rum with a knowledge of terroir and production that would be the envy of any sommelier. Repositioning the famous spirit as worthy of the forensic attention to detail often reserved for whiskey or wine, he pairs his vast knowledge with a leavening sense of fun, giving a new perspective on Hunter S Thompson’s favourite tipple.


Knife, Tim Hayward Buy from
We interviewed Tim Hayward as part of our Adventures In series in September. Back then, he reflected on the “weird symbiosis between user and knife” that he had seen in kitchens around the globe. His book ruminates on this peculiar relationship between chef and blade, from the blunt old one in your mum’s drawer to a top-of-the-range sashimi knife. Perfect for the curious cook as much as someone who appreciates keen culinary writing with a sociological inflection, Tim’s book is, in a word, sharp.

Ducksoup Cookbook: The Wisdom of Simple Eating, Clare Lattin, Tom Hill Buy from
We’re regulars at Ducksoup and its sister restaurant Rawduck and were thrilled to get our hands on some of the recipes we’ve enjoyed at both places over the years. Lattin and Hill draw a lot of inspiration from their travels. Dishes such as cured salmon with buttermilk, shaved radish and dill evoke journeys to Scandinavia. An interest in pickling and fermentation was sparked by a trip to Japan. But it’s the Mediterranean to which the book returns again and again, particularly Italy and Lebanon. Thus a plate of black figs, labneh, pistachio and sumac sits very happily alongside a wild boar ragù, and you can flick from chargrilled quail with moghrabieh and preserved lemon to pappa al pomodoro or a trio of dishes involving gnudi (ricotta dumplings).


Posted 28th November 2016

In Journal


Words: James Hansen
Photographs: Dan Dennison

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