Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Spices - Sophie Grigson


The publishers Quadrille (www.quadrille.com) sent me this gorgeous book to review this week.  I have long been a fan of Sophie Grigson having watched her on TV and bought a couple of her books in the past so I was delighted to see her book Spices.  Sophie has written quite a few book on her favourite subject, cooking which is not surprising as she is the daughter of the late, great Jane Grigson who started the cooking revolution in the 70s.

This book is both a visual delight and an educational compilation.  Spices are found in just about every home across the globe and form part of the flavours and cooking of most cultures.  Each spice has its own flavours, evocative powers of memory to transport you straight back to food and occasions from your past.  A spice can mean childhood to one person and holidays to another.

In this book Sophie gives you a practical guide to the wealth of spices at our disposal and dedicates a chapter to each of the familiar spices and some not so well known.

The best way to become comfortable with spices is to experiment, using a little more each time to build to an intensity that you are satisfied with and that provide the desired results.  They are not intented to overpower but to enhance what you are preparing.

In this book Sophie Grigson takes you through exactly what is a spice, how to buy, store and use spices and then proceeds to educate the reader all about them.  The spices are grouped into aromatic, nutty, hot, warm and sweet and scented bitter & sour and blends

All the favourite members of many cupboards are there eg, cinnamon, corriander, cumin, poppy seeds and vanilla as well as the more unusual you may never have heard of or tried like fenugreek, sumac and kalonji.  There are also spice blends like garam masala, ras-el-hanout and za'atar.

Each chapter gives a history of the spice, some hints and tips and then follows with recipes that make your mouth water just reading them. For instance I read that each vanilla plant in Madagascar is pollinated by hand to get over the fact that the only insect that pollinates the vanilla plant lives only in Mexico where vanilla originally comes from.

With the colder weather on it's way I know that I will keep warm reading about and trying some of the spice recipes in Sophie Grigson's new book Spices.