No matter how many cookbooks one has, and I admit I have a houseful, the irony is that some days you simply don’t have a clue what to cook that evening. The thought of browsing through the bookshelves is just too much like hard work; you simply want someone to tell you what to cook and then to get on with it.
Well, rather handily, that is exactly what Stephane Reynaud does in ‘365 good reasons to sit down and eat’ with 365 recipes for every day of the year. So as today is January 31st, let’s see what’s suggested. ‘Roast Pineapple with Honey’ eh? Can’t say I fancy that much for dinner, although I’m sure it’s very nice as it has vanilla and rum in it.
So the book is not quite the mealtime dilemma solution it says it is, although I am definitely keeping that dessert in mind for Valentine’s Day. Turning the page to Feb 1 though things get better – clams with herb butter – and I can see that on Feb 3 there’s quiche with prosciutto. Will the culinary gods strike me down if I cheat a bit?
Obviously Stephane (who gave us Rotis) has made the menus seasonal, woe betide any cookbook writer who dares suggest you waste air miles. Even so I once heard Ferran Adria of El Bulli, in response to a question, say that he didn’t give a flying fig where his produce came from as long as it was the standard he demanded.
Being a bit French, Stephane has also taken into account French days of celebration, la rentree and all manner of other events, which we may not celebrate as readily. All the way through good honest cooking shines out from photos that eschew the hoary old cliché of differential focus so beloved of bloggers snapping their latest creations, and instead go for difficult subtle studio lighting that draws out the essence of each dish.
Each page has a little ‘bon mot’ at the top, some of which may be more witty in the original French i.e. Stay healthy in June, wear a swimsuit in July but that’s Stephane, he loves a little oddness in his writing and its rather fun after the po-facedness of some British recipe writers and the rather effete dampness of dear old Nigel Slater.
There’s a recipe for every day of the year, including breakfasts, one-pan dishes, roasts, salads and cocktails with plenty of cooking tips and buying guides for the month too.
I’m not sure any of us need a good reason to sit down and eat, more like a good reason not to, but it takes a Frenchman to remind us that food should be fun and not a visit to church. Here are 365 good reasons never to go to a restaurant again. Bon Appetit!