Gourmet Cornwall by Carol Trewin – review

This is another from that marvellous collaboration of Alison Hodge Publishing, author Carol Trewin and photographer Adam Woolfitt. This book is of the same glossy high standard that we have come to expect and makes a wonderful companion to Cornish Fishing and Seafood that I recently reviewed.

Gourmet Cornwall I must admit that I hadn’t thought of Cornwall as having a great culinary heritage. Apart from the likes of Rick Stein there don’t seem to be many that wax lyrical about Cornish food. It’s a shame because this book shows that it has so much to offer, not only by way of produce but also skill and passion for local enterprise.

Until relatively recently Cornwall had a simple but traditional food culture. It’s now enjoying a period of enthusiastic growth and appreciation of everything that the county has to offer. Not only fish and seafood but cheeses, cream, meat, bread, fruit and even wine. Well, who would have thought!

There are several lovely recipes (Baked Chocolate Pudding from Nigel Tabb at Tabb’s Restaurant in Portreath is gorgeous and so simple) but this book concentrates on educating us, in a most beautiful fashion, about the new Cornish food revival.

Carol manages to put produce and products into context with lovely historic notes about everything from wrecking, a colourful and lucrative pass-time, to saffron-growing. That’s a new one on me! Since the mid-1990s there has been a rise in Cornish nationalism which has helped to revive Cornish culture and respect for Cornish food. These days, Carol says, almost every commercial baker makes saffron cakes and buns but try Women’s Institute and Farmers’ Markets for a taste of the genuine article.

Oh, OK then, let’s mention Cornish Pasties! When Carol and Adam were discussing the title for the book, someone suggested “More than just pasties”. Whilst it’s true that Cornwall has much more to offer, it still deserves a place in this book. More than three million pasties are manufactured in Cornwall each WEEK although they are mostly “exported” to other counties. It’s the Cornish “national” dish and is the popular item that has allowed some bakeries to survive. There are more choices of filling these days but the purist will stick to the traditional beef, potatoes, sweed (or turnip as it is known as in Cornwall), onion, salt and pepper. That’s the one for me!

Adam Woolfitt is a truly talented photographer whose pictures complement Carol’s words wonderfully, each page is to linger over and admire. The stories are charming and informative and would persuade anyone that Cornwall has a lot to teach other counties about respect for culture and culinary heritage.

Gourmet Cornwall
Author: Carol Trewin, Photographer: Adam Woolfitt, Foreword by: Philippa Davenport
Published by: Alison Hodge
Price: £ 14.95
ISBN 0-906720-39-7


Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018


See more books by Carol Trewin here