Cooked in AfricaEvery year from about September the cookbook shelves start filling with a mouthwatering selection of new titles.  This year is no exception, and all of the big names are there.  What is however pleasing,  is the growing number of superbly produced local cookbooks.  In our top ten for this year  we have three contributions from local authors.  What is also interesting this year is the lack of Asian cookbooks on the shelves. During the course of the next few months we will be doing more in depth reviews on our top ten.   The Wickedfood Cooking School top ten cookbooks  for 2009 are as follows (Click on any of the titles will  take you directly to  Red Pepper Books – The friendliest South African online bookshop, they offer great prices on any book you are looking for).

Fat Duck

  1. Cooked in Africa by Justin Bonello – If you have been watching any of BBC Lifestyle over the past year, you will have come across this quirky South African who has been traveling the length and breadth of the country cooking for friends.   This book is a reflection of some of the destinations, a great boys’ book. Apart from the delicious recipes, it is also full of colloquial tips, and  classic South African recipes (and some modern takes), from koeksisters to babotie . A must for every red blooded South African who loves their food.
  2. The Fat Duck Cookbook by Heston Blumenthal – again a recent regular on BBC Lifestyle, this book  demystifies some of  Heston Blumenthal’s dishes from  The Fat Duck restaurant, birthplace of snail porridge and bacon-and-egg ice cream. In the book we  encounter the passion, perfection and weird science behind the man and the restaurant. This is not a book for amateur chefs, but a fascinating insight to the intricacies of some of the dishes, up to four pages for one dish.JO
  3. Jamie’s America by Jamie Oliver – Every year JO managers to bring out a new book.  He bill’s this one as the “ultimate food trip to explore places, ingredients, food culture  and traditions. I wanted to get to the heart of great American food, to get past the junk and super-sized portions …. I found what I was looking for: some of the most diverse and delicious recipes I’ve ever come across! “
  4. A farm In My Heart by Emilia le Roux and Francois Smuts – To my mind, one of the best books to come out of South Africa, it is written in a story form, and account of daily life  on the farm with a wide selection of classic farm recipes, home remedies and preserving.River Cafe
  5. The River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbookby Rose Grayand  Ruth Rogers – Over the last twenty years, Rose and Ruth have been at the helm of one of the iconic London restaurants, where a variety of the world’s top chefs and TV personalities have cut their teeth, including  Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, both featured here.  This book is Rose and Ruth’s personal interpretation of Italian home recipes, supported by some beautiful photography.
  6. Franchhoek Food by Myrna Robins – Franchhoek has more good restaurants than any other town in south Africa, and some of our top chefs live here.  This book features 18 of the Valley’s best chefs, including Matthew Gordon, Rubin Ruffel and Margot Janse. This is haute cuisine cooking, with a touch of  history and some great photography of the finished dishes.Italian Cookery
  7. The Italian Cookery Course by Kalie Caldesi – you may remember Kalie from the TV series which chronicled the couple’s trip to Tuscany to rediscover Giancarlo’s culinary roots, and set up a cooking school.  In this book she has collated recipes, techniques and ingredients to create a unique compendium of Italian food.The book will guide you through the vast collection of famous recipes and lesser-known regional dishes, with clear instruction on how to replicate them at home. Each chapter contains ‘masterclasses’ on technique, revealing the practical secrets of Italian cooking and giving the reader new confidence in the kitchen.
  8. River Cottage Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – Hugh  is one of Wickedfood cooking school’s favourite chefs . His vision that all food should be free of pesticides, growth hormones and additives  that gets pumped into our food. Food should be eaten when in season and sourced locally. Hugh shows you how easy it is to make fresh healthy meals daily. To see o full review of the book, click hereRick Stein
  9. Far Eastern Odyssey by Rick Stein – An epic culinary journey along rivers, through jungles and around the coastlines of Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Thailand,  Sri Lanka,  Malaysia and Indonesia. Along the way, Rick visits traditional family-run restaurants, street vendors, floating markets, night markets, fishing villages, and the local farmers to learn about the authentic food of the Far East, and to sample the delicious spectrum of exotic flavours.
  10. Tender: v. 1: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch by Nigel Slater – many consider Nigel as one of the top cookbook writers in the world.  With over 400 recipe ideas and many wonderful stories from the cook’s garden, this book  is the definitive guide to cooking with vegetables.

Apart from these great cookery books, there are also some great new books on growing food, sustainability and self sufficiency the best of these include:

  1. Grow to live by Pat Featherstone – a local book by the founder of Soil for Life.  It takes you on a journey into the field of organic food, a hands-on, no frills guide for the South African organic food gardener  with expounding pencil drawings and stunning photographs.Fruit & Nuts
  2. Fruit and Nuts by Susanna Lyle – an informative and comprehensive guide to growing and using more than 300 species of fruits and nuts. Each entry includes a brief history, detailed description, and authoritative information on propagation, as well as helpful advice about harvesting times and methods, cultivation, pruning, pests and diseases.  Suitable for home gardeners and professionals. Self-sufficiency
  3. The new complete book of Self sufficiency by John Seymour – As with all Dorling Kindersley books this one is not only highly informative, but also beautifully produced.  This new edition of an enduring classic from the founding father of modern self-sufficiency, it is still the key reference to living off the land. Covering all the practicals from ploughing fields to milking cows as well as information on how to create an urban organic garden and harness natural energy, this is perfect for anyone aspiring to the self-sufficient lifestyle.
  4. A Greener Life by Clarissa Dickson – You may well remember her from the TV series Two Fat Ladies.  This book  is  packed with information on how to live a more natural and self-sufficient life. Clarissa, together with co-author Johnny, explores the relevant issues-from growing your own vegetables to using alternative energies, from keeping livestock to mending your own socks-so that you have the knowledge to start living the good life.