WORD UP . book issues + commentaries
It used to be so simple. A cookbook serves a simple function – to teach people how to cook. Harried housewives read cookbooks for new recipes to feed husband and children while homesick students, yearning for the warmth of home, try to recreate a few of mum’s specials. It didn’t matter mostly who the authors of the cookbooks were, as long as the instructions were clear and the end product somewhat appetizing.
That was then – since then, there has been the ‘sexing up’ of everything such as government dossiers and of course, not excluding the genre of cookbooks and of course, the chefs themselves.
The Naked Chef
Well, I was never much into cookbooks or cooking shows till I happened to catch an episode of The Naked Chef a few years ago. The cooking did not interest me and the blokey chef failed to catch my eye but what interested me was the show – it wasn’t about the food or the chef (important ingredients [hahaha!] in any cooking show) – it was about a lifestyle. Jamie goes on his scooter to buy ingredients! Jamie hosts parties for his friends! And cool rock-n-roll music is playing on the background! What, the chef on the cooking show is not a 50 year-old housewife with mousy hair and barely understandable English! Cooking almost seems to be incidental to the show – for sure, I’m not watching the show for the cooking.
I checked out The Naked Chef (the book) soon after and remembered being slightly surprised that the instructions were written in paragraph – versus in bullet format or numbering the instructions with each step – making it difficult to follow. It’s almost as if it’s not important that readers found the instructions hard to follow!
It was probably domestic goddess Nigella Lawson who invented the term ‘food pornography’ though! (Jamie Oliver has always remained fully clothed despite the title of his show and books.) I was watching her show on TV once and while neither the food nor the cooking registered with me, I understood perfectly why she is considered the ‘domestic goddess’!
I remembered a scene where Lawson was stirring some cream when she scooped some onto her finger and very licked it off sensually with the camera in extreme close up. On the way, the camera lovingly lingered on her breasts just a teeny second more before turning its attention back to the dish. Any surprise there that her shows are watched by non-cooks more than cooks?
For those keen on trying on their recipes, below are some of Jamie’s and Nigella’s titles available at the libraries. Please check out our online catalogue to check for item availability and location.
Books by Jamie Oliver
- The Naked Chef
- The Return of the Naked Chef
- The Naked Chef Takes Off
- Happy Days with the Naked Chef
- Jamie’s Kitchen
- Jamie’s Dinners
- Jamie’s Italy
The above books can all be found at Call No.: q641.5 OLI -[COO].
Books by Nigella Lawson
- How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food
- How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking
- Nigella Bites
- Forever Summer
- Feast: Food that Celebrates Life
The above books can all be found at Call No.: 641.5 LAW -[COO].
Contributed by Lim Lee Ping, Librarian, Adult and Young People’s Services
Questions, comments, philosophical ramblings?