Stephen Jardine: Is this a culinary miracle too far?
ON THURSDAY, mealtimes will change forever. That is the day Jamie Oliver publishes his new book and the world of food will never be the same again. Entitled Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals it is his follow-up to the publishing phenomenon of 2010.
Back then Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals became the fastest selling non-fiction book of all time and the first of his books to sell more than a million copies. With support from a TV series, UK sales to date have topped 1.5million. Take a group of 40 people and one of them will own a copy. But two years on, do they still use it ?
At the time, the book faced a wave of criticism from some home cooks who found it took twice or three times the 30-minute target to make a meal.
Jamie was unrepentant. “With a bit of preparation, the right equipment and some organisation, hearty, delicious, quick meals are less than half an hour away,” he said.
Quite how you squeeze that time down to 15 minutes is about to become apparent. Despite stretching the space-time continuum, with support from another TV series, it’s still likely to be the Christmas publishing hit and a must-have for every lazy student and hard pressed home cook.
But it does beg the question, what are cookery books for? Some of the earliest recorded recipes are contained in The Forme of Cury written in 1390 by chefs employed by Richard II. We’ve been adding to the collection ever since.
As the price of colour printing dropped, the number of cook books on the shelves started to rise and they now represent a substantial share of the publishing market.
This year, the competition is greater than ever with Jamie, Nigella, Lorraine Pascale and Nigel Slater all releasing books aimed at the Christmas marketplace. Our very own Tom Kitchin is also in the fight with his new Kitchin Suppers.
For all of them, it’s no longer just a case of writing down your favourite recipes and waiting for the royalties cheque. Nowadays the food needs to fit a lifestyle demographic and TV promotion is an essential part of shifting copies from the shelves.
That’s good news for consumers. Not only do you get a recipe but you usually also get the chance to see if is works in front of your own eyes. And that’s the 15 minute challenge facing Jamie.
I’d suggest, if you really are that squeezed for time, make some macaroni cheese, follow it with an apple and spend the five minutes left over doing the washing up. Battling to create a meal in less time than it takes to answer the security questions on telephone banking is actually wasting time.
Instead, save cookery books and proper meals for when you can pour a glass of wine, put on some music and do it properly. After all, food is for eating but meals are to be enjoyed.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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