Confession time: I love Reggae Reggae Sauce. That doesn’t sound like much, but I’m known to drizzle it on everything from sandwiches to burgers and think I might possibly be addicted; that combination of sheer heat with tangy fruitiness is known to get me going every time. This means that when I was offered a copy of the Levi Roots Food for Friends cookbook for review I jumped at the chance.
Most of us know Levi Roots from the TV series Dragons’ Den, where he was awarded £50,000 to market the aforementioned sauce. What most of us don’t know is that he was hugely successful in his own right as a musician before this, being friends with Bob Marley, performing for Nelson Mandela, and being nominated for a MOBO.
Since 2007 and the infamous Dragon’s Den appearance Levi Roots and Reggae Reggae Sauce have gone from strength. Reggae Reggae is now a brand in itself with several sauce varieties and ready meals in the family, and Levi has had his own cookery show, Caribbean Food Made Easy on BBC 2. He also has several cookbooks to his name, of which Food For Friends is the latest.
The premise of the book is a peculiar one; those looking for typical Caribbean recipes would be best to look elsewhere (although to be fair, some do exist here). Instead, what we have is a book which fuses traditional English dishes with Caribbean ingredients and most of all Levi’s unique style and flair. As the name would suggest this is food to share with friends and family, and all these unique little touches are bound to draw attention.
Usually I’m sceptical of cookbooks which seem to be about a personality rather than being about food, and this book initially seems to fall in to that category; adding a bit of chilli to something to make it seem more exotic is surely just a gimmick. When you scratch beneath the surface however you realise that this is really just an example of fusion in British food moving forward in a new, previously unexplored direction. When you realise this and embrace the concept, the dishes actually start to become really quite appealing.