I am in the thick of reading his amazing book Historic Heston which is as heavy in weight as it is beautiful and fascinating in content. The photography is absolutely splendid, rich in colour and with stunning dishes displayed. You could just sit and drool over the photos and nothing else if you wanted. I really love history, and I am a keen reader of food history. Heston (or his minions) have done extended research, and it shows in his prose and the truly amazing dishes he and his crew have come up with. I can hear his voice as I read the book, and it does sound like the language he uses in his shows. I have made one wee thing from the book - Earl Grey Tea salt which I think I will use sprinkled over baked salmon fillets, or chicken. He uses it in a sweet dish in the book, where he sprinkles it over a strawberry tart (which has 9 elements to the dish). He makes a gel, and this salt, and yoghurt cream, and chamomile sugar, and crystallised mint, and biscuits, and tuiles, and poached fruit and a strawberry sorbet. Eek! I am exhausted just writing it down.
Basically this book is great if you like Heston, if you like food history, and if you like fabulous photos of amazing food. I don't think it is in the least bit practical or useful as a cookbook but who cares? That is obviously not the aim of the book. It is a splendid read (though a bit heavy for bed-time reading unless you have a servant lad with hefty muscles to hold it up for you). It also has lovely sketches and drawings along with the text and the photos, so it is a real feast for the eyes. Heston throws in some of his scientific knowledge which I found really interesting. The more I cook, the more I realise you need to know a bit of the scientific basis for cooking. It helps you to understand how ingredients react to each other, and how to obtain the results you want from a dish.
|2 simple ingredients|
Take 20 grams of sea salt flakes and 5 grams of Earl Grey tea leaves (not tea bags) and pound them together in your mortar. Store in a glass jar with an air-tight lid.
|pound them up in your mortar and pestle|
The last dish in the book is Mock Turtle Soup from Alice in Wonderland. It has (if I have counted correctly) 12 elements! It has 2 different stocks and a consomme, and numerous other elements with varying degrees of difficulty. Clearly I am not going to be making this any time soon and nor I think will you! But oh it is lovely to look at and dream about. I just have to get myself to The Fat Duck in Bray and eat it there!
|the Mock Turtle (public domain image)|