my favourite cookbooks of 2023
Gifting time is here! Check out my choices for the cookbooks of the year.
Diet and sustainability has never been higher in the agenda. While these are important topics for anyone nerdy about their food, despite money worries people are asking these questions about their dinner. And the cookbooks of today reflect that.
Here’s a selection of some books I’ve enjoyed most this year. It’s not been an easy shortlist, so let me know what I missed.
Few things crush my soul more than knowing we have to stop at a motorway services on a road trip. If you’re in the mood for Burger King, Starbucks or KFC then you’re fine, but even then you’ll be rinsed on price compared to the high street. Thankfully then I discovered this book, refreshed every year, aiming to compile brilliant farm shops, cafes and delis just off the motorways. I’ve discovered a couple of gems from it this year, not least of which the incredible Waitrose farm cafe. This book now sits in my glove compartment permanently, and would make a perfect gift for UK drivers.
Poppy O’Toole is a national treasure in the making. I can’t wait for her to be completely mainstream and present The One Show or something. Her book from a couple of years ago was one of my favourites that year, and I immediately preordered her air fryer book when it was available. And it doesn’t disappoint. There’s no new ideas or ground-breaking flavours here, but inspiration to use the now-ubiquitous appliance in different ways.
In the UK Bangladeshi food means one thing: British Indian Restaurant food. What most of us think of us ‘having an Indian’ or ‘having a curry’ means curries derived from the Bangladeshi cuisine. And even then it has evolved over ~40 years to satisfy the most people possible. What a treat then is Made In Bangladesh, a love letter to the perfume, the aroma, the joy of Bangladeshi cuisine. There are so many different layers and ideas across the Indian continent and we don’t do enough in the UK to educate ourselves in these varieties. This would be a good first step for those looking to expand their ‘curry’ repertoire.
Honourable mention: White Heat 25
OK; this edition is from 2015, a reprint of a 1990 book. But I just had to include this book as no other book has influenced me more in the kitchen this year. I was always aware of Marco Pierre White (who isn’t?) but I’d never really know what he was about nor knew that much about him. Doing a little research for a YouTube video this year I got hold of this from the library, read it cover to cover in an hour, then immediately bought my own copy. Yes the photography is somewhat dated and hilariously cliched now but it still burns with passion and charisma. The writing and the recipes are electric and inspire completely – what more do you want from a book about food?
That was my year in cookbooks – what were your favourite books this year?
Previous years’ lists: