Five quarters


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.

27 thoughts on “Five quarters”

  1. And it was you who first introduced me to Rachel’s blog 🙂 … and so the wheel turns. Although I’m a rare dipper in and outer of any blog rather than a follower, I do enjoy hers when I do visit.


      1. You’re right.

        In fact my blog will soon be a Thing Of The Past, to be replaced by ‘articles’ which will, I hope,put less pressure on me to produce!


  2. Drat it, I’ve already got a cookbook shelf that runs the entire length of the kitchen, with the overspill in the pantry and the spare bedroom. I suspect I’ll be adding to my collection, though, having read this. Thanks for the introduction, I haven’t read Rachel’s blog but I’ll check it out.


      1. They usually start there and migrate to the kitchen. Lost count of the number of times I’ve woken up when a heavy cookbook fell on my face. 🙂 Have you seen Mildred’s vegetarian cookbook? It’s terrific, almost enough to make me give up meat. Almost.


  3. This is Mildreds – it’s in London:

    It started out fairly veggie-worthy many moons ago, when I used to go when I was working nearby, but it’s upped its game in recent years. Still not as exciting as Dennis Cotter though – he shall forever remain top of my list!


  4. Ah more cookery books, of course, why not? I bought a Denis Cotter for my veggie daughter for her first year at uni – bit over ambitious!!! I see she’s left it here in bedroom – one for the future I think.


  5. I know exactly the style you’re talking about when you say that a blog is enlivened with stories, rather than simply providing recipes. I’m not much of a cook–my husband does almost all of it–but I read several food blogs just for the good reading! I’ll check Rachel out!


  6. It looks like a lovely cookbook – I began following her blog after seeing a comment or post you wrote. I love the colors and the availability of fresh unique ingredients. I saw her post when it was finished – looks fabulous. Cookbooks inspire me to cook and have fun – to experiment and taste. Summer is almost here and it has a flavor all its own. Have a wonderful week.


  7. Hello Margaret, Why didn’t I see this sooner? Thank you so much. I am sitting in a cool living room in Sicily looking through a glass door at a still rather hot garden. We have just finished the week long writing course in which we talked a lot about blogging and how some of the nicest, most honest and human writing is to be found in personal blogs. I am now reading this, which feels so fitting. Thank you. I feel extremely lucky to be a part of this generous and keen reading and cooking community. I also feel very proud to be in your kitchen, in book form at least and look forward to the day I am really in your kitchen. With love Rxo


  8. Rachel, you can’t come soon enough. Though I might make you do the cooking. Looking forward to reading all about that week in Sicily. Next time you do one of these courses, I might just have to sign up! x


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