Bods’s Cookbook Collection Reviewed – Delia’s Complete Cookery Course

Published on 10 March 2010 in , ,

All this week I’m reviewing some of the cookbooks on my shelf. And book two is a staple of many a household…

I’ve been cooking since a pretty young age, having been introduced to it by my mum. Pretty much as soon I was old enough to be trusted with the oven, I spent time in school holidays making things like shortbread or fudge.

On Sundays I’d make the gravy and stuffing whilst the rest of When my dad was briefly working in the US and my mum was on odd shifts due to training to be a nurse, I’d sometimes make tea. I could follow a recipe and get a result.

So when I went to university in 1996 I had at least some idea of how to get round a kitchen. I even had a recipe for pasta which involved smoked sausage, mushrooms and cheese sauce.

However there was still a lot I didn’t know, and after leaving uni, there wasn’t going to be much opportunity for those extra lessons to be given to me by mum, and if this was the reason my mum bought me a copy of Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course, well she never said.

As it happened, I did move out (and to London) and ended up moving in with a vegetarian so there’s still a lot I don’t know about cooking. I may have a book where Delia can tell me all about roasting a chicken, however I never have actually cooked a chicken.

Still even for a household that never puts poultry in a roasting tin, Delia’s much reprinted tome has still had some serious use. When I first wanted to try making bread, it was Delia that I turned to. When I want a cake or nice desert, the Complete Cookery Course comes out. And when I bought some raspberries on offer last year and decided to make jam, guess who was there to guide me?

And that’s the joy of Delia. The book covers everything, and starts with the basics. Rather than presenting you with just the recipes, the book explores the equipment you need, general techniques and information about key ingredients.

It’s always clear. It’s always easy to follow. It will even tell you about marrow, and few books even acknowledge the existence of that particular vegetable.

No other cookbook I own is as comprehensive. It’ll even tell you how to make a wedding cake. Or mayonnaise. Or a wedding cake covered in mayonnaise.

True, for me, huge swathes of the book have gone unread. But still, if by any chance Catherine is out for the evening and I happen to have bought some steak or a pork chop, and I need an idea of how best to cook it… Well I’ll know where to turn…

Tomorrow it’s a student classic.