Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Kitchen Magpie by James Steen Book Review


I read The Science Magpie back in January 2013 and loved it. It was a collection of science related facts, stories, poems, jokes and diagrams. A mixed bag so to speak but very enjoyable, the perfect book to just pick up a read a few pages. I then went and bought The Antiques Magpie and The Nature Magpie for Kindle but as I’m so bad at getting through my to be read pile, they are still waiting to be read. However when I saw this on NetGalley I knew it would be right up my street! I love cooking and baking and as I loved the format of The Science Magpie, I thought I’d also enjoy the format of this book.

First off, I just LOVE the cover! All the Magpie series covers are very clever and this is no exception. I actually frame these covers and put them up as art on my walls, that’s how much I love them! Design was done by Mark Ecob, who I also just discovered from browsing his site, did the cover for Bonk by Mary Roach! Loved that book and cover. Anyway, the book is separated out into different chapters, covering different areas of the kitchen, from the oven to the fridge and freezer to the spice rack and the vegetable rack. Without the chapters there’s stories, recipes, tips and facts related to the chapter, as well as contributions from people like Mary Berry, Ken Hom, Marco Pierre White and James Martin, to name a few. I learnt many things but the one big thing I didn’t know was that Alexis Soyer, a very famous French chef in the 1800s was the person to invent soup kitchens during The Irish Famine. Though what isn’t mentioned in the book is the insult of being called a ‘souper’ or being accused of having ‘taken the soup’. A lot of Protestant soup kitchens were set up, on the condition that the starving Catholic Irish convert to Protestantism. Though it’s worth pointing out that not all soup kitchens were set up in this manner.

At the end of each chapter is a section called What Is the Food of Love?, where a different chef answers the food they most associate with love and why. It was very sweet to see all the different answers and proving that usually the most simple of foods can be the most rewarding.

So if you want to find out why ‘furciver’ was an insult, what to do in a professional kitchen if you are told to ‘nap the fish’, if you’re curious about who once said ‘all Scottish cuisine is a result of a dare’ and why, or if you just want to know how to make the perfect soft boiled egg, then you need to pick up this book! Perfect to read in one go or to enjoy with in bite sized pieces. I’m looking forward to seeing what else will be coming out in the Magpie series.

Copy obtained from Net Galley, for which I was under no obligation to do a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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