This magnificent volume has already sold over half a million copies. Hardly seems like Jekka’s Complete Herb Book needs another promotion but I guess there might be someone who doesn’t already own it or has not yet come across it.
Jekka McVicar is a familiar face to UK TV viewers. She has oft graced our screens on gardening programmes and also alongside food worthies such as Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver. With reference to Jekka’s Complete Herb Book Jamie has said “Jekka’s is a must-have book for everyone who loves gardening and cooking, I’m her biggest fan.”
So what’s so special about Jekka’s book? Why would one of Britain’s best loved chefs be so impressed? It quite simply does what it says on the label. “Complete” is the key word. This book tells you all you are likely to want to know about herbs. History, cultivation, propagation, cooking, and medical uses are all here.
It’s good to find gardening books that don’t assume the reader knows anything about the subject. The photographs of the herbs and the food are lovely but what do you do when you have a virgin patch of ground and a few packets of seeds your dad bought for you “to give you a start”? Jekka has pages of advice that starts with showing you how to sprinkle seeds and continues to the planning of your herb garden. You don’t need a big garden, there is information on growing herbs in containers.
There are plenty of surprises. Helleborus Niger or Hellebore or Christmas Rose is a plant that many of us are familiar with. I didn’t know that apart from being a lovely plant, it’s also a herb and considered to be one of Britain’s oldest cultivated flowers. It’s thought to have been brought over with the Romans although it’s hard to envisage a stocky legionnaire toting a sack of plants to make his garden look nice.
Jekka’s Complete Herb Book deserves to be a best seller. It’s a book that will be enjoyed equally by both gardeners (expert and otherwise) and cooks. Jekka McVicar has made her living from herbs and she has produced a manual for the home-grower. Your herbs might not ever introduce you to culinary celebrities but they will give you some flavourful meals, a cure for vertigo and a lot of pleasure.
Jekka’s Complete Herb Book
Author: Jekka McVicar
Published by Kyle Cathie
Herb guide and cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018