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„To that extent the Cookery Course reflects my personal approach to food. I also hope that it reflects the changing background to cooking today – our dwindling resources and world shortages which have in turn set prices on a dizzying climb. The really affluent era of food is passing; and it is an accepted fact the effects of affluence in the western world are as much to blame for the spread of heart disease as anything, and that our kind if diet is a major factor in this. In view of all this it seems to me to make sense to go back to cooking the basic dishes well, and so attempt to set a pattern of more moderate eating overall (rather than to make drastic overnight changes in your diet simply because of the latest theory). We all eat far more than we need to, and this is the root cause. I have sometimes been accused of using too much cream, butter or olive oil in my recipes, but the whole point of cooking recipes is that there are very few of us who actually use a recipe every day.”
Delia Smith in „Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course”
As announced we are dealing w/ domestic goddesses.
Today I like to talk about Delia Smith & her cookery course (in its omnibus edition)* – only in English available:
Well, I didn’t stumble across this oeuvre somewhere in the 1990s – my better half provided this cookbook when we moved in together. (It’s the edition of 1982, printed in 1988.)
I was soon rather fond of this book because it was an exhaustive volume on cooking & baking, always a reliable source when in doubt how to make… whatever.
However, let’s start w/ some facts:
Delia Smith (*1941) is a self-educated cook, writer & hosts TV cooking shows. Her approach to cooking is down-to-earth, no-nonsense, no over-the-top ingredients, nothing that wouldn’t fit for home cooking.
She had a lot of jobs after school, but an interest for cooking & recooking recipes, writing & food photography arised. Finally she ended up w/ writing columns about food in newspapers… & finally she made it to TV.
Based on her popular TV cookery shows she wrote 3 volumes (starting in 1978) which were combined the omnibus collection in 1982:
- about 710 pages (sorry: I didn’t count the recipes!)
(Today’s edition of the oeuvre is a little smaller…)
The volume covers:
- Basics like „Conversion Tables“ & “Equipment“
- Bread and yeast cookery
- Pâtés and starters
- Stocks and soups
- Meat: roasting and pot-roasting
- Meat: casserole and braised dishes
- Rice and other grains
- Vegetarian cooking
- Pasta and pancakes
- Spices and flavourings
- Salass and dressings
- Barbecues and picnics
- Cream, ice cream and yoghurt
- Scones and biscuits
- Fruits and puddings
Why was I so fond of this book?
Well my very 1st encounter with a cookbook was Dr. Oetkers Schulkochbuch which I inherited from my mother. It was an edition from 1930s – printed in German Fraktur. Only some photos – I think maybe a dozen or so. The recipes were short, very short & there were no further instructions about food. Well, I wasn’t fond of it – it didn’t inspire me to try cooking or baking anything. I mainly used it when I had to look up some detail which I often didn’t find…
…& then there came Delia’s book: I don’t think that there are any questions about cooking which arn’t addressed by her book. Although it isn’t like any of today’s fashionable cookbooks w/ more photos than text (my impression sometimes!) it’s very detailed & clarifies the basics in depth.
For the record:
Only some days ago I found Dr. Oetker’s Schulkochbuch in its latest edition when roaming a big bookstore nearby. Today it’s a real tome w/ lots of photos & lots of instructions. On the very 1st pages I found a short overview on the cookbooks published since 1900s or so.
So the cookbook was adjusted now – step by step over the decades – to today’s standard. I think my old version fitted to the volume presented for the 1930s.
…& when I was reading a little about Delia I found an interesting bit of information: 1969 The Rolling Stones released their album „Let it bleed“; the cover presented a really fat cake – a cake Delia had made especially for the album cover.
So let’s not forget some more on all my domestic goddesses:
- Julia Child
- Nigella Lawson
- Mary Berry.