Saturday, 4 August 2012

Beef, Peaches and Knives: What I've Been Reading Lately

I don't just like to eat food, I like to read about it to. I'm starting to get a bit worried actually, I'm becoming one of those people who read cook books like they're book books. I've not got to the point of reading them on the train or in public yet, thankfully.

Although I don't know why I am ashamed. Good cook books are beautiful, and do so much more than just supply recipe ideas, they're full of tales and stories and indulge my geekiness for good publishing and design.

Ditto that for some of the food magazines i've picked up recently. And don't think glossy magazines full of recipes and interviews, these are small fanzines or dedicated publications to food writing, whether thats an ode to the doughnut or a tale of eating your way through the night like it's the day.

Here's what I've been reading recently;

All of these magazines offer something a little bit different. 

Fire & Knives isn't really a magazine at all, it's a journal full of in-depth food writing which could concern just about anything - it's as much for someone who likes words as it is for someone who likes food. It's edited by Tim Hayward, long time Guardian writer and a little bit of a hero of mine. 

Fricote is a French magazine (thankfully with English translation, if slightly dodgy) and says it's for 'l'Epicurien Urbain'. This would be the easiest read of all the magazines, and perhaps is the one I enjoy most as although its main focus is on food and restaurants it includes interviews and music reviews - this issue has a chat with the lovely Chris Taylor from Grizzly Bear about the restaurant he's opening. 

Put an Egg On It is a little fanzine from Brooklyn, has a very DIY feel to it and you can imagine a group of creative friends putting it together in their spare time. Some cupboard recipes and humorous little stories. 

Lucky Peach is produced by David Chang, him of Momofuku fame in New York, and as you read it you almost become complicit in this cycle of 'ye, this magazine is really fucking hip - we know that, we made it that way, look at us we're swearing AND talking about food, and by reading it, subscribing to it and waiting by the door for it to arrive, you want to be part of that'. But really, that doesn't matter, because it's a great read. Hilarious, witty, totally insane with recipes i'll probably never attempt because they require 20 odd crazy ingredients i've never heard of.

I haven't actually got started on issue 4 yet - the American Food Issue, but 2 and 3 were devoured with gusto, particularly the chefs/cooks issue.

Mates of Chang's are the boys from Joe Beef, who I actually first read about in Lucky Peach, and they have a cookbook (of sorts) - their words not mine - which again is full of some fantastically extravagant recipes which all play with ideas of traditional French cuisine from their restaurant in Montreal. There's even a section on how to make your own smoker which I definitely want to to try when I a) have spare time b) have more outside space than a small wooden balcony. I've managed one recipe from it so far, and it was supremely good - chocolate eclairs if you're interested i'll tell you about them another day. AND it's an American (Canadian?) book that uses grams, thank fuck for that.

The other two books i've been loving recently also come from restaurants - both restaurants i'm desperate to visit when time/money/location situations are resolved.

For anyone interested in cooking good steaks and meat, the Hawksmoor at Home book is a must, and the Polpo book is a selection of simple Venetian dishes, which thankfully unlike most of the other books i've mentioned use ingredients I can actually get my hands on in the north. Also it's beautiful, with a very interesting exposed spine.

And lastly, Ive been going to bed reading A Kitchen Primer which I imagine was written in the 1960s with the intention of educating American housewives to proper French cooking. It's both unintentionally amusing in it's ridiculous anecdotes like 'toast for a special occasion' but also really useful for how to do basic things like chop vegetables and make an omelette. I imagine it's teaching me more about 'actual cooking' than any of the pretty books are. But that's not what I want them for. 


  1. Ooooh, I'm so pleased to have found your blog, great to see Newcastle-based reviews.

    Lucky Peach has been on my "want it, must resist it" list for a while- time to subscribe.

    1. Thanks so much for the comment!

      And Lucky Peach is a great read, granted i'll probably never make any of the recipes but it's really fun.

  2. I was looking for good food reads when I came across your blog and I must say you have a good list here! I haven't heard of Lucky Peach before and I am going to check them out as per your suggestion :) I was able to dine at Hawksmoor once with my husband and their steaks are AMAZING! My dream is to be able to cook a steak as good as theirs, but for the meantime I am trying to perfect simple home cook meals that I have learned from Donna Hay's new book called The New Classics. The recipes are good and easy-to-follow and if you haven't picked it up yet I totally recommend it:


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