The City of London Cookbook by Peter Gladwin – review

review City of London Cookbook This is one of those charity books with various contributors that I love so much. The charity in question was the Lord Mayor’s Appeal 2006: The Treloar Centenary Appeal for disabled children. The contributions from this book will still be added to the fund.

Peter Gladwin has a scrumptious collection of his own recipes and those of other chefs and even the odd Royal… er, sorry Sir, not at all odd, and… um, thank you for the recipe! They are a lovely selection of dishes that encompass the cheffy and the traditional, but all of them could be made at home with no need to rent the Mansion House kitchens for the evening.

The City of London Cookbook is also a history illustrated with witty anecdotes and it’s worth buying the book for those alone. Sophia Loren was gracious enough to admit “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti”. We also get the insider’s view of international figures: it seems like American politicians have a limited dining culture. They don’t eat seafood in shells, fish with bones or chicken attached to carcasses. If you can’t eat the meal with just a fork then it goes back!

If you love London and especially the City then you will appreciate the tales of ancient tradition, some of which have lasted 700 years. The first one we come across is the Sheriff’s Breakfast. Sounds a bit like a pre-hanging scene from an old western but it’s the breakfast that the Sheriff is obliged to offer the Aldermen of the City. It’s held on Michaelmas Eve at 8am and Samuel Pepys wrote of it in 1660. The menu in those days was a bit different, comprising such “tempting” dishes as mutton pottage and collar of brawn, to be washed down with ale and chocolate!

Rick Stein was asked by Alderman David Brewer to create a recipe for his Lord Mayor’s Banquet. Crab Florentine was Rick’s culinary response and Peter had the task of preparing 800 to be served simultaneously. OK, so you do need a big kitchen for that!

This is a fascinating and fun book and thoroughly enjoyable. It would make a wonderful gift for a foodie, tourist or Londoner – and it’s in a good cause.

The City of London Cookbook
Author: Peter Gladwin
Published by: Accent Press
Price: £12.99
ISBN 978-1905170388