It does what it says on the cover. But it does so much more, this book is destined to be one of the most dog-eared in your collection.

If Glynn Christian were ever to open his own deli, it would have to be a contender for Best Deli Ever, and I would be first in the queue

This experienced cook, TV personality, food writer and, yes, a descendant of ‘that’ Mr Christian,  is all knowledgeable and defiantly unbending to fashion and fads. He knows what’s good, he knows what’s bad and, unusually, he admits to personal prejudices whilst eruditely telling us why.

His section on chillies, for example, turns up the heat on one of our favourite ingredients. He covers all the myriad types, and what each is good for, but slams those chefs and diners who have basically lost their fine sense of taste via years of eating too many, and too hot, chillies. 

I sympathise, I once overheard a diner ask for chili sauce for his meal because he ‘couldn’t taste anything’. I was tempted to tell him why that was.

Open any page at random here and you instantly become engrossed. There are no pictures, just lots of wise words carefully chosen. Whole chapters on Beans, Peas, and Pulses and on Charcuterie, Chutneys, and Teas. There’s even one on Australian Cheese, which I thought was an oxymoron like Australian Culture, but no it is a real thing.

I love the way he makes subjective assertions;  something frowned upon in these snowflake days. Talking of lemon juice and oysters he says they are ‘never eaten together by people who know what they are doing’. Amen to that. Instead he says use chopped salted/preserved lemon.

Every herb and spice is given a full description. If you’re not sure what lovage is, and how to use it, you’ll find out here. MSG? Not the villain people often paint it, instead it is, as Glynn points out, an effective flavourless flavour enhancer which does not affect people with heart problems the way salt does. Obviously don’t overdo it, though. 

Knowing more about what ingredients actually are is empowering, you know what to put together without needing a recipe and this helps you better understand the recipes you have and how to effectively tweak them for better performance.

You’ll also find  NEED TO KNOW panels for each of the categories covered, with quick to skim lists breaking down what’s important, whether you’re buying, cooking or eating.

Comprehensive, often controversial, warm, witty and wise Glynn once more has produced a book that is a ‘bible’.

A book for foodies  to keep by their favourite chair and to pick up and peruse and drive their partners crazy with ‘did you knows?’ every few minutes.

Published by Grub Street

ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1911667238

Find it on Amazon