A former colleague once paid me a lovely compliment: She said I looked just like Sophie Dahl. The best part was that she continued to repeat this whenever I bumped into her. I was thrilled — every time. Not only is Sophie a former fashion model and wife to a musician who’s a fave of mine, British jazz phenom Jamie Cullum, she’s also Roald Dahl’s granddaughter. James and the Giant Peach was one of my favourite books growing up and it’s said that Sophie was the inspiration for the main character in The BFG.
As if all this weren’t enough, Sophie is now an accomplished cookbook author and all-round foodie. (How cool can she get? You can see why I thought being compared to her was such a huge compliment!) When her TV show, The Delicious Miss Dahl, was airing on the Food Network last year a friend emailed me to say, “Your twin’s show is on — you have to watch it! She’s adorable and the recipes are great.”
I blushed and promptly recorded every episode.
So, needless to say, when her new cookbook, Very Fond of Food (Ten Speed Press, chapters.indigo.ca) landed on my desk recently I was eager to dive into its beautiful pages. Maybe it’s because I’ve been on a two-week cooking hiatus while my husband renovates our kitchen — and I’m generally missing food that doesn’t come in take-out containers — but I devoured this book. I swear that last night I even dreamt about making her grandmother’s Rhubarb Rice Pudding and inviting Sophie over to sample it with me — in my beautiful new kitchen (which in dreamland didn’t involve a plywood countertop and half-painted walls).
As a general rule I do love a good cookbook though. I find them inspiring and, although I don’t use most of my cookbooks on a daily basis, they’re useful too. I’ve learned a lot by trying new recipes and techniques that I’ve found in their pages. Plus, they’re beautiful to look at. One of the new additions to my new kitchen will be two big shelves to display all of my cookbooks and there will definitely be a spot for this one.
Do you collect cookbooks or have a go-to favourite? Tweet me @KarenRobock.