Some of my fondest memories from childhood are those with my grandmother. We used to spend countless hours in her meticulously organised kitchen; often I would watch in awe as she seamlessly threw this and that into a pot, without an apparent care - the end result always a taste triumph. Other times, I would be lovingly told off, due to my natural inability to tidy up after myself, a trait that is heightened in the kitchen, still, to this day. Regardless of the various scenarios that unfolded in that tiled room, my love of cooking was undoubtedly born through her, and strangely, or rather, incredibly, as soon as I laid my eyes on Sam Mannering’s latest cookbook Food Worth Making, all of these memories, overwhelmingly, flooded back to me.
This charming cookbook is 240 pages of effortlessly designed recipes, and beautiful imagery, thanks to Daniela Aebli, along with a handful of quirky stories, explaining why certain recipes made it into Mannering’s worthy collection.
Don’t expect complex instructions, or far fetched ingredients only reserved for Michelin Star chefs. This fabric, hard covered book is reminiscent of those you and I would have traced our fingers across as children in our Grandparent’s kitchens, most likely hand printed in cursive writing. Each page dotted with years of stirring splatters, unexplained food remnants and greasy finger prints. Simple lists, and even simpler notes in which to achieve Sam’s impressive, yet mouth watering recipes. Think, perfectly cooked pork belly with a fennel and white anchovy accompaniment, coq au vin (and Mannering’s account of how his first pet, a Rooster aptly named Roger, was turned into this famous dish, and how it, obviously, upset him so), good things to eat on toast, and simple to prepare dumplings, inspired by Auckland’s favourite dumpling house, Barilla.
All in all, I can honestly say this cook book is by far the best I’ve seen in a long while. It resonates a simpler time, a time where quality, and fresh produce was highlighted in uncomplicated ways. Where foams and molecular gastronomy were only a forming droplet in someone’s waterfall of imaginative possibilities. And where, above anything else, cooking was a slow and enjoyable pass-time shared with loved ones - a far cry as to what the majority of us think about cooking nowadays. Yes, my Grandmother would not approve of you and your Two Minute Noodle eating ways, come to think of it, I’m sure Mannering would not approve either.[gallery ids="4907,4911,4910,4909,4908"]