Book Review: Is This a Cookbook? Adventures in the Kitchen by Heston Blumenthal

About the Book:

Is this a cookbook?

Well, it’s full of Heston’s typically brilliant, delicious and inventive recipes, including green gazpacho, beetroot and pea salad, quinoa with vegetables, Moroccan pasties, hemp panna cotta, banana and parsley smoothie, tomato and coffee muffins, parsnip granola, rice ice cream, sherry vinegar posset, cricket ketchup and thyme and orange kombucha, not forgetting popcorn chicken with real popcorn. Every recipe is simple, straightforward and totally do-able. This is Heston at his most accessible.

But there’s so much more. Each of the 70 recipes is accompanied by Heston’s thoughts, stories, insights and hacks, turning each cooking session into a journey that’ll excite and inspire and reveal a whole world of culinary possibilities and fresh perspectives. Brought to life by the incredible illustrations by Dave McKean, Heston’s long-term collaborator and widely acknowledged as one of the greatest illustrators at work today, it’s the next best thing to having Heston as your sous-chef.

So why not get in the kitchen and have an adventure?

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing

Released October 2022

My Thoughts:

What a delight this book is! I have enjoyed watching Heston’s food extravaganzas on TV in the past and this book offered the same level of engagement and enjoyment. Is it a cookbook? Well, yes, there are recipes in it, themed into chapters and easy to follow. But it’s also a book about food and eating with mindfulness, focusing on the enjoyment of what you are eating and taking the time to ‘listen to your gut’ when deciding what to eat.

‘What we’re exploring here is not what we eat but how we eat it.’

The book has a combination of stunning photos and quirky illustrations throughout. It’s a visual feast for your eyes. The recipes are clear to follow with the added bonus of notes from Heston inserted to guide and offer advice. The thing I love most about this book is the tips about food preparation, such as eggs and the way in which the yolk cooks at a different rate to the white and how to balance this depending on what you’re doing with your eggs. And he has a whole section on different salad dressings which are so easy to make from your pantry and so adaptable for a variety of dishes.

‘How we react to food and how we experience its flavours depends on so much more than just what’s going on in our mouth and nose. It’s about an emotional response – what memories, what associations are triggered – which is very personal. We can talk about taste receptors and the like but, in the end, there’s nothing objective about food and flavour. I love tonka beans for their almost rubbery flavour, which reminds me of beach shoes I wore as a kid when on holiday. A friend of mine hates them for much the same reason: rubber reminds her of the anaesthetic mask at the dentist. No two people perceive and experience a flavour the same way.’

I actually sat down and read this cookbook as a book, from cover to cover, delighting in all of it. So, if you want to find out what quantum gastronomy is, then Is This a Cookbook is the book for you. You may also discover something new to make and a whole new way to eat it.

Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

9 thoughts on “Book Review: Is This a Cookbook? Adventures in the Kitchen by Heston Blumenthal

  1. I’ve got this too, but I’m going to leave my review till I’ve tried cooking something. Which with Heston, as you know, is more than the usual cooking challenge! (I may just settle for ‘Green Eggs and Ham’!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Is This a Cookbook? by Heston Blumenthal | ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

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