I love reading. And I love cooking just as much. So what could be better than combining my two passions? In this blog I’ll be writing about the references to food that I come across in the books I read, and then sharing my experiences of trying to cook some of this food in my North London kitchen. I’ll be providing recipes, and photos of the finished results, so you can also – if you wish – try them out yourselves.
A bit about me: I am a secondary school English teacher, and in my spare time a keen cook (though with no formal qualifications in that area, although I have attended some cookery classes and courses). The recipes in the blog are either devised by me, or adapted by me from other recipes that I have found. On the odd occasion that I have followed a recipe very closely, I have acknowledged my source. I have tried out all the recipes at least once and I aim to be honest in my assessment of how well they work and where there are problems with them. Apologies in advance for any mistakes in the recipes; as with all cooking, you will need to make the recipes your own and, if you have any suggestions for amendments, please let me know. I am also most certainly NOT a food historian. The history of food and culinary practices is of increasing interest these days, but it is not a central concern of this project. So, whilst I have tried up to a point to be faithful to what ingredients would have been available at the time the texts in question were written (for example, I have not used potatoes in recipes inspired by Anglo-Saxon or Medieval literature), I don’t want to be constrained by this or to make the cooking of these recipes involve an arduous hunt for unusual ingredients. For example, I use olive oil as a basic cooking fat in all my savoury recipes, even though it has only been commonly used for cooking in the last twenty years or so. I also want my recipes to taste good! So think of them as being inspired by the literature, rather than dictated to by it.
I intend to take a broadly chronological approach to the blog, though I can’t promise not to deviate at times. But, as you will see, I start with the mead-swilling Anglo-Saxons and the great literary work of the period, Beowulf, then move onto the meat and pies of medieval England and so on. But if something I am reading throws up an interesting dish, I may not be able to wait to try it out!
So, read, cook, eat and enjoy!