The Pedant in the Kitchen is perfect comfort for anyone who has ever been defeated by a cookbook.
The Pedant’s ambition is simple. He wants to cook tasty, nutritious food; he wants not to poison his friends; and he wants to expand, slowly and with pleasure, his culinary repertoire. A stern critic of himself and others, he knows he is never going to invent his own recipes (although he might, in a burst of enthusiasm, increase the quantity of a favourite ingredient). Rather, he is a recipe-bound follower of the instructions of others.
It is in his interrogations of these recipes, and of those who create them, that the Pedant’s true pedantry emerges. How big, exactly, is a ‘lump’? Is a ‘slug’ larger than a ‘gout’? When does a ‘drizzle’ become a downpour? And what is the difference between slicing and chopping?
This book is a witty and practical account of Julian Barnes’ search for gastronomic precision. It is a quest that leaves him seduced by Jane Grigson, infuriated by Nigel Slater, and reassured by Mrs Beeton’s Victorian virtues.
As recommended in the Slightly Foxed podcast, Episode 2: The Oldest Paper in the World.
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