Are you struggling with your Christmas present list? If you’re looking for an interesting, original
cookbook, don’t be seduced by the plethora of celebrity-led TV cookbooks. Try instead, to follow the trails that lead
to the quiet, innovative writers who often shape how others write and cook.
Peasant, Adventures in City Food by Jojo Tulloh (Chatto & Windus),
which was published in May 2013. This is the perfect present for dreamy,
idealistic food lovers, especially if they like quirky illustrations, literary
quotes and a proper bibliography.
This is Jojo Tulloh’s second book. Her first,
East End Paradise, was focussed around stories and recipes from her
inner city allotment.
The Modern Peasant charts Tulloh’s
thoughts on how city dwellers, like her, can become more self-sufficient. She covers
everything from making your own yoghurt to keeping urban bees. There are chapters on baking, fermentation
(think home-made ricotta, kimchi and ginger beer), foraging and different
methods of preserving including pickling and smoking.
Some chapters such as Planted, and Reared, illustrate the
dynamic nature of London. The former
discusses the growing trend in community gardening from micro-plots to drop-off
veg bags. The latter tackles the relevance
of understanding what it means to kill and butcher an animal. Tulloh includes a description of the surreal
experience of listening to a concert expressing a pig’s life, death and
consumption at Café Oto in Dalston in East London, before being served a
Every chapter includes recipes, which range from how to make
faggots and sausages in Reared, to walnut and nestle pesto, and spring soup of
Jerusalem artichokes, lentils and dandelions in Foraged.
It’s fitting that another influential book that you won’t
find in many bookshops, namely,
from a Weed by Patience Gray (Prospect Books, 1986) was the inspiration
behind this book. References to
from a Weed are woven into the text, and a chapter is dedicated to Gray’s
I should perhaps add that this is not a guilt-inducing
book. Quite the reverse, it is a book
that advocates small steps to create a better life. It will inspire the
recipient to explore new foodie horizons.