A review of Favourite Food by Jill Dupleix

The book celebrates traditional and classic recipes from around the world: “food that links us to the generations past; that has a sense of time and place; that has a reason to be; that gives us a sense of the continuity of life; that reminds us that these things have been done before and will be done again.” Dupleix takes these classic dishes and improves on them wherever possible by simplifying, lightening and modernising.

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Favourite Food:
New Ways with the World’s Best Recipes
by Jill Dupleix
Allen and Unwin
Dec 2002, pb, RRP A$35.00
ISBN 186508889

Jill Dupleix is a writer first and cook second. Her cookbooks sparkle with good natured and idiosyncratic prose which is a enjoyable to read as it is to cook by. This is the way cookbooks should be. They should do more than provide a compendium of recipes. They should inspire us, make our mouths water and provide a sensual experience that encourages us to think differently about food. Not all cookbooks do this, but Favourite Food the recently released paperback version of Dupleix’s very popular Old Food is both a literary and a dugustatory pleasure. This large format and beautifully presented book contains as much of its authors’ personality as it does good food.

The book celebrates traditional and classic recipes from around the world: “food that links us to the generations past; that has a sense of time and place; that has a reason to be; that gives us a sense of the continuity of life; that reminds us that these things have been done before and will be done again.” Dupleix takes these classic dishes and improves on them wherever possible by simplifying, lightening and modernising. Her porridge has barley, rye, sesame seeds and linseeed. Convenience foods like baked beans and fish fingers are completely transformed with slow cooking, quality ingredients and beautiful combinations. Heavy, fatty foods like Moussaka and Shepherd’s Pie are turned on their sides, or sweetened with tomato jam.

The book is divided into chapters based n breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails, soup, salad, picnic faire, stews, potatoes, vegetables, feel better food, pudding, sweets, afternoon tea, supper, tapas, broths & sauces, and pantry. From a purely utilitarian perspective, Dupleix could probably have simplified the structure by combining stews with dinner, potatoes with vegetables, picnic with lunch and puddings with sweets and afternoon tea, but that might be less fun. As it is, each chapter is prefaced by Dupleix’ humorous words of wisdom (“vegetables are revolting”), and the sections quite focused, although wide reaching. For breakfast, Miso Soup with Tofu happily co-habitates with Pikelets, sweet cous cous, Nasi Goreng and Feta Brik. For lunch, Esqueixada sits next to salmon fish fingers, and Paella next to grilled lamb for dinner.

The book also contains many of Dupleix’ own creations such as the lovely Beetroot Carpaccio, Ensalada de tuna, vegetable chips, risotto cake or thai fruit salad with chilli (you have to try it). The pantry section is particularly valuable and contains such things as caramelised lemon and lime rind, how to dress a salad, how to cook rice, making chermoula, tomato jam, roti jala, pickling vegetables and making yogurt. The recipes are primarily old, but never staid. There is much here for any cook, beginner or experienced, and the photography is terrific and evocative.

Dupleix writes for The Weekend Times in the UK, and has had regular columns in the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age. This is her fourth cookbook. She looks like she is having a wonderful time in her back page photo, and sounds like it too in the fun and witty writing which celebrates the joy of good food. Favourite Food is one of the best cookbooks around – classy, easy, traditional but with a wide range of recipes you certainly won’t already have. You’ll enjoy reading and looking at it as much as you will trying the excellent recipes.

Views All Time
Views All Time
9
Views Today
Views Today
2