There are some words that are perfectly innocuous on their own, but when combined, become something that sends me running for cover. I’m thinking of things such as ‘Daily Mail’, ‘expert opinion’ and most fearsome of all… ‘family friendly.’ Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against kids, or places that are family-friendly, but it’s just not my thing. If kids are going to have fun, they’re probably going to make some noise and good for them, but generally speaking and particularly in a restaurant, it’s not what I want.
But the demand is there, of course and perhaps typified by Giraffe. From a single restaurant (in family-friendly Hampstead, of course) opened in 1998, the brand is thriving. There are now 33 restaurants and a move into the world of publishing with the Giraffe Family Cookbook. So, although I have to put my hand up and say that I’m a Giraffe virgin, I’ve spent several hours with the book, and have warmed to the brand considerably.
The Giraffe Family Cookbook is split into seven sections, breakfast and brunch, salads, sharing plates and the eyebrow raising ‘Happy endings’ – though this being a family-friendly tome, they mean desserts. Each chapter has a generous number of recipes, most of them accompanied by a picture and with a smattering of hints and additional information (tall tales, if you will). The recipes use ingredients that most people will have on hand, or would be fairly easy to get hold of. They are also relatively uncomplicated affairs, which make them ideal for busy folk and for getting the whole family, including the kids, involved in the preparation and cooking.
The recipes in The Giraffe Family Cookbook are influenced by a wide range of global styles, with no one style dominating. The thread that connects them is that they are all good for sharing with family or friends. The dishes have some interesting twists and flavours – what could be a rather prosaic hot dog becomes much more interesting with chow-chow relish – and would be a good way to get the younger members of the family trying unfamiliar ingredients broadening their culinary horizons.
Against my expectations, I really liked the Giraffe Family Cookbook. It’s unfussy, well-presented and has a lot of interesting recipes. It would make an excellent addition to the family bookshelves, although there really is something here for everybody.