I’ve just bought a cookery book. This is not a newsworthy event in this house, despite the fact that I turn increasingly to the internet when trying to come up with something fascinating to do with a handful of leftovers discovered at the back of the fridge.
In fact it’s the internet that’s brought me into a relationship with this recipe book. No, actually, it’s this blogging business. You know how it is. You discover someone’s blog. And through that, you discover someone else’s. And you end up following it (whilst trying to hang on to a sense of proportion: following blogs is not a substitute for real life). Kath, the far-from-ordinary The Ordinary Cook was responsible, quite a few years ago now, for introducing me to racheleats.
I love Rachel’s bogs. She’s an Englishwoman who found that a short visit to Rome turned into a longer one. Then she found that she was no longer visiting, but living there. She had the luck to live in a busy, ordinary, un-touristy district with a bustling market just down the road. This market in Testaccio became central to her life there. I guess she’s always cooked. But she made it her business to buy local ingredients, to ask questions, to get thoroughly in touch with the ingredients and recipes of her new life in Rome. And she started her blog.
There’s always a story to be told in her posts. She’ll write about shopping for the ingredients, or how her version of the dish she’s writing about has come into being, or some other anecdote. She has the knack of making you feel you’re sitting at her kitchen table, watching and learning while she chats as she assembles her ingredients and starts preparing the vegetables. Because then there’s the recipe. After I’ve read it, I want to dash into my kitchen and cook immediately. There’s just a small matter of not having that market to hand, with all its local stallholders and ingredients….
I wasn’t alone in loving her writing. A couple of years ago, she was approached to write a cookery book, using the same personal lively style that characterises her blog posts.
And last week, the book, written whilst juggling her busy life as a mother, teacher, partner, recipe-chooser-and-tester, was published. I ordered a copy immediately, from The Little Ripon Bookshop, and as soon as I got it, I started to read…. It’s a page turner. She explains how it is that the book got its title ‘Five Quarters’.. She writes about the path that led her from London to Rome, from a career as an actress to the one she has now. And she writes about the food she cooks. Simple food, food made tasty by careful cooking of (to her) readily available ingredients: the dishes of the working people who lived – and live – in Testaccio. The stories she weaves round the dishes she writes about make you want to cook, and eat, and go on reading this inspirational book. If you like Italy, or food, or eating or cooking – or even better, all of these things, you’ll love this book, and want a copy to read and use and make your own.