UK recipe tome wins cookbook of the year

Updated: 2014-05-06 09:38

By J.M.Hirsch (China Daily)

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UK recipe tome wins cookbook of the year

Historic Heston by Heston Blumenthal is an epic exploration of mostly antiquated recipes.

UK recipe tome wins cookbook of the year

Chinese author addresses cultural differences 

UK recipe tome wins cookbook of the year

Ancient Chinese texts heading for digital frontier 

Anyone with a hankering for hash of snails or powdered duck or a host of other centuries old British cookery should be plenty pleased with this year's James Beard Foundation cookbook of the year.

But for the rest of us-by which I mean, virtually every last one of us-the selection of Hes ton Blumenthal's Historic Heston, a 431 page epic exploration of mostly antiquated recipes, will be a head scratcher.

It's one of those books so fabulously out of touch with any cook who doesn't have an army of sous chefs at his side, one has to ask for whom this book was written.

Actually, the answer is obvious. It was written by and for Blumenthal, a talented writer and brilliant chef with a host of restaurants in England. And in that regard, it is a masterpiece.

Blumenthal has a knack for ferreting out the genealogy of a dish, a skill he's put to fascinating use in previous books, including his 2006 In Search of Perfection.

But the selection of his latest tome as cookbook of the year announced on Friday during a ceremony in New York - is puzzling. Blumenthal takes recipes already made obtuse by history (salmagundy, anyone?),and instead of translating them into terms contemporary readers could appreciate or at least learn from, he filters them through an equally inaccessible lens of modernist (think whiz bang science driven cooking)techniques.

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