Patriotism seems to be something of a theme lately amongst cookbooks; first was the Great British Menu Cookbook, and now there’s this – the Great British Village Show Cookbook. You’ll probably be glad to know that they’re nothing like each other.
I’ll admit that this is my first cookbook first cookbook by James Martin. Something inside me is making me lean away from “the book that accompanies the series”, unless the said book has something unique to set it aside from all the others out there. But what does this one have?
First up is the unique theme of the book – the humble Village Show. They are of course much in decline these days (where everyone heads off to Tesco for their shopping and skips the shows and farmers’ markets altogether), but there’s always a die-hard troop of allotment owners ever eager to show off their latest prize winning pumpkin.
Second is his unique style of food. Born and raised in Yorkshire (I’m a Northerner myself, as you’ll know), his contemporary cuisine always seems to remember its “roots” – whether a recipe handed down through generations, or a twist on a regional classic.
So on to the book. First recipe out of the bag is one from my region – Lincolnshire Poacher Scones. Lincolnshire Poacher is a local cheese with a soft texture, with a taste (when bought in the “mature variety” somewhere between cheddar and parmesan (or should I say parmigiana). It’s a favourite purchase of mine at local farmers’ markets so to see it in this book was a great surprise. The scones, incidentally, are so easy to make and delicious to boot.
The rest is suitably homely, too. From chutneys to cakes, pies to pickles, its all here interspersed with stories about village shows – such as prize winning leeks and the like.
The entire book has a similar feel to the River Cottage books from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall (and even comes with the now seemingly obligatory resource directory at the back), but that’s no bad thing. The more people that can take food back to its roots and away from mass production can only be for the better.
So what are you waiting for?