The NYT’s Dining section had an article about Simon Hopkinson, the British chef and cookbook author who wrote “Roast Chicken and Other Stories,” “Second Helpings of Roast Chicken,” and “Week In, Week Out,” (a collection of newspaper essays only available in Britain, but which can be sent here from the British Amazon arm).
The recipes are fairly straightforward and delicious, and organized by ingredients, such as “Cream,” or “Chocolate,” or “Mussels.” It’s a whimsical organization, a sort of “these are a few of my favorite things,” but it’s charming. The best thing about it isn’t the recipes, though. It’s Hopkinson’s frankly opinionated, humorous voice– he makes fun of himself as much as he does foodies and fancy restauranteurs, and also tells lovely tales about British inns and cooking establishments of yore, when hospitality meant something. They’re in the Elizabeth David and M.F.K. Fisher school of personal and informational essays to accompany recipes, and while his style is lighter than theirs, the cookbooks are a good non-fiction read even if you’ve no intention of cooking from the books. The writing’s worth it, alone. If you liked “Eat, Pray, Love” for her descriptions of eating and food, you’ll probably like this one, too.