Purging the cookbook collection to achieve that inner glow
When I'm not writing about houses, I write about food and have the privilege of being the restaurant reviewer with the Irish Independent. Meet someone for the first time, tell them what I do for a living, and wait for the inevitable sigh of envy.
One of the things that I like most about writing for newspapers is that I get paid to learn, that there is hardly a piece of journalism that I write that I don't have to research. Writing about old houses, you usually learn something about the people who lived in them in the past and their history. And interviewing owners about their houses and the way that they live in them is always interesting. People are endlessly fascinating.
Writing about food and restaurants, I meet mainly chefs, farmers, food producers and other food writers. And from time to time I interview them when they publish a cookbook. One of the perks of the job is that I get sent a great number of cookbooks. One of t he downsides of the job is that I get sent a great number of cookbooks.
Now that we are preparing to move house, I feel that something has to be done about the number of cookbooks that I own. Because I use cookbooks for research, they do not fall into the same category as the other books in the house. They are not akin to the novels that I've read and enjoyed, for instance, that must now be Kondo-ed. (I'm glad you asked how I'm getting on with that and, truth be told, I'll get back to you asap.)
I'll be keeping the books that I actually cook from, the ones by the writers whose company I like to keep when I'm pottering in the kitchen. I can look at all those shelves crammed with cookbooks and immediately pick out the ones who have done me some service over the years: The Silver Palate that taught me to cook when I first left home and was living in New York, Marcella and the two Ruths, Jamie and Nigella, Diana and Skye. Ottolenghi of course. I'll keep the reference books that tell me how to cook every species of fish imaginable, and how to ferment and make skyr at home. I'll keep the books that tell me what to do with a whole deer, or a brace of pheasant, and how to jug a hare, should I be lucky enough to come across any of these creatures in the vicinity of our new home when we move into the city centre. But I think that I might be done with the clean-eating brigade and their hectoring. I think I might dispense with the books that purport to tell me how to detox and glow, the volumes on juicing and cleansing, the ones that proffer recipes with ingredients such as chia and amaranth. Somehow I just don't think they are really me.
And while I'm at it, I'm going to purge the kitchen cupboards of redundant equipment. The first thing to go will be the spiraliser.