It’s all about the timing and when one is in lockdown at home due to the unmentionable, armed with camera and balcony space – nothing is more welcome than a wonderful book from our friends at Phaidon, the procreators of creative books, including those on food. And while this delicious book is bursting with tips on how to convert your space, however limited or ample, into fertile families of pots of grub for us all to enjoy, it also is budding with recipes as well… Nom nom and during these rather unusual times we will read, grow and then cook (reader you may be waiting until August until you read the dining review, but hey the one thing we all have right now, distancing allowing, is time)!
The book feels and smells as good as it looks, organic images, muted pages of detail and instruction from green-fingered Aaron Bertelsen, recipes from Great Dixter and pot porn from Andrew Montgomery.
This book is the perfect ingredient for those in the city, in apartments, in the country, with back yards, with gardens and terraces, it sits well on a balcony (mine in this instance) and takes your green gingers through the pots, tools, seeds, planting, combining, watering, weeding… and harvesting.
My past pot successes include tomatoes, courgettes, lettuce, chillies and herbs, my failings are many including roots and fruit – yet I remain optimistic, and trust Aaron to see me through and I am particularly taken by the chapter on edible flowers… I’ll keep you informed as I do my best Ermintrude impersonation in the weeks to come.
Recipes cover breakfast, which is a really interesting touch from a book that looks so very traditional and while breakfast is, of course, traditional the UK is not such a melting pot of indigenous ideas – so this is wonderful and includes muesli, muffins, salads, farls and even cannellini beans on toast with crispy kale.
We thumb through soups, mains which involve simple additions to the homegrown produce such as chicken, trout and pasta. Salads and sides are in abundance – beetroot hummus, grilled summer vegetables with feta, and Mauritian slaw from ‘The Global Skip Garden’ in Kings Cross (now the Story Garden), close to the home of publisher Phaidon and one guesses a dish that keeps those professional readers on top form as they power read through curly kale, cabbage, carrots, mustard and cumin seeds, ground coriander and Tumeric and toasted sesame seeds… It’s hard to visualise desserts originating from a pot other than a soufflé – but wait; basil pavlova, baked apricots with bay and honey, scent-leaf pelargonium sorbet…
This book is a journal of nature, nurture and nourishment and one that couldn’t be more relevant than now – get a pot, find a space with some sunshine and watch your crops grow, order what you need online and go for green!
A beautiful book, one that’s good for the soul.