Do you sniff books? As a hobby it’s a lot less dodgy than sniffing some other things one could mention, and it can be very informative too. The smell of a book can tell you a lot about the publisher’s intention and opinion of the book in question.
Some cookbooks smell of glossy high quality inks, the finest paper, the best glue on the spine. They tend to be old-school haute-cuisine books reflecting the sky-haute prices of eating in the chef/author’s restaurant.
Others are eco-friendly, the pages smell of reclaimed paper and ink made with otter-friendly solvents. There is no gloss to the pictures and the photography has a murky, whole-earth colours feel that is, ironically, the trademark look of some of the most expensive food photographers on the planet.
Geetie’s Cookbook is the latter kind as befits an organic pioneer. She opened her organic Gastro Pub The Duke of Cambridge in Islington over ten years ago and at the time people said it wouldn’t work. Wouldn’t work in Islington? How could it have failed?
And so, of course, it prospered, winning ethical awards by the raffia recyclable bag full and always full of happy ethical well-heeled punters. The food, as well as being organic, is rustic with Mediterranean influences and is of course very seasonal.
The book reflects this, being themed around the seasons. Over 150 recipes that stand out as things you really want to eat, not challenges to be overcome. Ingredients are honest and simple – beetroots, cabbages – but they are quickly transformed into tasty offerings.
As well as the excellent recipes, you’re treated to Geetie’s thoughts on the food industry too. She’s preaching to the converted rather but nonetheless there is still plenty to provoke thought and surprise.
A personal cookbook, not a celebrity one, Geetie’s Cookbook is a refreshing read and is inspiring in its pursuit of simplicity in food without compromise on enjoyment. If you can’t afford to live near the pub itself, and few can, you can at least now eat as well at home.