Tuesday 27 January 2015

Blog: 'News of a Kardashian Kookbook has pushed me over the edge'

The reason why I'm justified in being a total cookbook snob....

Published 22/07/2014 | 16:28

Kris' new cookbook 'A Kollection of Kardashian and Jenner Family Favourites' hits the shelves next autumn
Claudia Roden and I at the launch of her cookbook

I am a self-proclaimed cook-book hoarder. I own dozens more than I'm ever willing to admit, lining shelves in both my Dublin apartment and adorning space in my mother's kitchen at home.

At Christmas, a rectangular shaped present always lies beneath the tree and, unlike many, my friends never have to question what to get me for my birthday should they lack imagination.

Kris' new cookbook 'A Kollection of Kardashian and Jenner Family Favourites' hits the shelves next autumn

I don't treat them as well as I should (my copy of Nigella's 'Feast' is not without traces of batter or glaze of different sorts) but perhaps this is a sign of true love. There is little point in cookbooks if they are only in the kitchen to sit pretty.

Yet, I must admit that while I note myself as something of cookbook aficionado, I am also guilty of snobbery. I have little time for generic titles depicting 100 chocolate desserts or generalist books promising to be the holy grail of every recipe on the planet. They don't hold my interest for very long, but for good reason.

I read today that Kris Jenner, orchestrating queen of the Kardashian clan, is to release a cookbook and it made my heart sink, further reminding me why I hate cookbooks like these so much.

Despite occasionally indulging myself in episodes of 'Keeping Up with...' (and thoroughly enjoying them), the hoard of wait staff and personal chefs shacking up in Kardashian HQ convinces me that Kris isn't so at home in the kitchen.

Stack of old books
'The reason why I'm justified in being a total cookbook snob'

While Kris' new book might grasp the interest of those hoping for a slice of the high life (and add further big bucks to her bursting bank account), publications like this lack inspiration and most importantly any measure of food love, which is so important in any kind of meaningful food writing.

The cookbooks I love to read are ones that have stories; that are bursting with culture, experience and soul. Writers like Rick Stein transport you to faraway places and describe food in such a miraculous way you dream of being able to reach your spoon across the ocean.

Simplistic cookbooks like Jamie's, which often come off the back of whatever new level of genius he's creating on the telly, may not be so exotic, but are still bursting with so much love and beautiful photography that they fill you with inspiration to whip up something special, even if it does only take 15 minutes.

It's not about being a chef. Nigella, who dominates my straining cookbook shelves, is not a chef, but someone who transformed a love of food into a bustling empire so full of soul, I could peer into one of her books for hours and have done so many times... even when a nearing payday has ensured an empty fridge. (Note to friends: it doesn't need to be my birthday for you to justify a gift of any of Nigella's beautifully revised editions with pretty pastel covers).

Claudia Roden and I at the launch of her cookbook

Last year, I excitedly counted down the days to an event featuring Claudia Roden, where she was due to speak about her newly released cookbook 'The Food of Spain'. With a fresh copy of her book on my lap, as well as one of my old favourites, I listened to her in admiration as she spoke about everything that was involved in the creation of her book. The years of research, the adventures and the stories she brought home were all lovingly penned within the book in my hands. It was special, as was tasting the almond cake she so lovingly boasted about throughout her speech.

When she finished, I joined the queue of people, arms laden with old copies of Roden's books. As I waited and watched everyone approach Roden, smiles on their faces and eager to relay how much they loved her life's work, I knew that my cookbook snobbery was justified. 

Staged photos of the Kardashian-Jenner 'klan' beaming as Kris holds the turkey in whatever state-of-the-art kitchen the production team has hired is so stale compared to the admiration that filled the room with Roden that day and of course the passion that fills each and every page of her books.

It's a different thing entirely when you love food so much you have the ability to touch people's lives with your experiences, than yet another Kardashian venture just motivated by more dough.

I think it's needless to say Kris' book is not one I'll be adding to my 'kollection'. I'd much rather cosy up with the books that make me feel something. 

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