When reviewing a cookbook, one must tell the story of the cook. Because it is the person, with his tastes, his passions, his entire life that speaks to you behind the pages. Because it is the person who created the eatable works of art that you would like to repeat. Because, in the end, in a cookbook that is worth buying a person, puts all his soul and his knowledge. If you enjoy cooking, if you appreciate the beauty of this art, then here you have the short reviews of the 5 greatest cookbooks in History, as chosen by ‘The Observer Food Monthly’, a board of specialists in the domain.

1. The French Menu Cookbook by Richard Olney

french menu

Richard Olney (1927-1999) was an American food writer and a cook living in France. His best known book, ‘The French Menu Cookbook’ was published in 1970. In 2010, it was chosen by the members of ‘The Observer Food Monthly’ as their favorite cookbook. The style of Olney is characterized as complete and yet simple. At the time of its apparition this book was considered innovatory. The recipes of Olney are famous all over the world and the book was recently republished.

2. French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David

coq au vin

Elizabeth David fell in love with French cuisine while studying history at Sorbonne, in Paris. She was not supposed to become a cook. But she was meant too. She fell in love with this art and became one of its masters. Her greatest compilation of recipes is ‘French Provincial Cooking’(1960), which is considered one of the greatest recipe books ever written. Elizabeth was she as well a fan of simplicity. She stated that ‘good cooking is achieved when ingredients taste what they are'(in the introduction of ‘French cooking in England’).

3. The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden

jewish meal

‘The Book of Jewish food’ (1966) by Claudia Roden is a compilation of Middle Eastern recipes, by an amazing author who puts in her masterwork  not only delicious recipes with many variations you may choose from, but also a cultural journey , which takes you all over the world, as describing the cooking customs of Jewish communities in many different places. These are therefore great recipes to have, to read and to put into practice.

4.Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater

kitchen diairies

On his site, one can read: ‘Nigel Slater is a cook who writes’. And this is the stunning truth. He is an achieved writer and a brilliant amateur cook. Without being a chief he is a talented food lover. His book proves it best. The recipes Slater included in his book are fresh home-made uncomplicated foods that he likes to match with every part of the day and every season of the year. One could eat for example, ‘a piece of chicken on a grill on an August evening’ (in the Observer, 15 august 2010), as described in his great Kitchen Diaries (2005).

5. Roast chicken and other stories by Simon Hopkinson with Lindsey Bareham

‘Roast chicken and other stories’ (1994) is a great book to have and to use. This is because Hopkinson is keen on classic recipes, old-fashioned yet ever delicious gastronomical jewelries.  They are commonly destined for more advanced cooks, but Hopkins, with his unique style manages to make them easy and satisfying to prepare. This book, which was nominated as one of the greatest in the domain, is very well organized, in alphabetical order. Each chapter attacks one single ingredient, which is first briefly described. It is then introduced in various delicious recipes.

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