Kathryn Hawkins is a well-respected food writer and author of several books, a home economist and former editor of Woman’s Own magazine. Her knowledge of her subject is evident in The Connoisseur’s Guide to Herbs and Spices.
This is a charming encyclopaedia with fine photographs and delicious recipes. The Connoisseur’s Guide to Herbs and Spices is a cross between a botanist’s handbook and a cookbook. The detail here makes it an ideal companion when you next take an exotic city break to, say, Istanbul. You might at least then have some idea of what’s for sale in the spice aisle of the Grand Bazaar! There is plenty of advice on growing your own herbs, either in containers or in the garden.
We have been using herbs and spices since ancient times. The first book referring to the use of culinary herbs was penned by the Roman Apicius. Spices became more widespread after the fall of the Roman Empire when Arabian traders took advantage of the Mediterranean market.
From the eleventh century, the Crusaders introduced plants from the Holy Lands into Europe. The wealthy in medieval times had access to quite a list of exotic spices to enliven what was otherwise a bland diet.
The Connoisseur’s Guide to Herbs and Spices is divided into the two obvious parts, herbs and spices, each of these with a history, advice on use and common names. Kathryn maintains a light and readable style while explaining the properties of the herbs and spices as well as their culinary uses.
There are a good number of recipes which have been chosen to best present a particular herb or spice. Black Olive Tapenade uses thyme to good effect. Fattoush is a light Lebanese salad with plenty of fresh parsley. Smoked Salmon Risotto uses dill which is a classic partner of salmon of any kind.
The Connoisseur’s Guide to Herbs and Spices is a well-written, well-illustrated volume which would be welcomed by both gardeners and cooks.
The Connoisseur’s Guide to Herbs and Spices
Author: Kathryn Hawkins
Published by: Apple Press
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018