Well, the title is a mouthful but James Martin has written a book that is mostly about the food at the village show. The book was inspired by the BBC series The Great British Village Show and gives tips from the expert Village Show judges on growing prize-winning veg, making gold-medal baked goods as well as presenting over 100 recipes.
It’s about using fresh produce from farmers’ markets and local suppliers, has cracking recipes and it’s a bit of fun. James sounds just like the rest of us: “This year, my runner beans didn’t grow as well in the garden as the French ones.” “My gran used to make castle puddings when I was a kid.” But he has new versions of old favourites as well. Pear and Rosemary Crumble with Cinnamon Sauce, Lemon and Treacle Tart. James has a recipe for delicious Hand Pies. No, he doesn’t use real hands, free-range or otherwise. These are raised beef pies with just a little Stilton to make the filling tangy.
There are fine recipes from Village Show competitors that are every bit as good as chef-generated ones. Fran Wright’s Whisky Mac is a cake with a hint of alcohol, as the name would suggest; Anne Ashley’s Parkin is scumptious, and Betty Gilbert normally makes between 21 and 24 Lemon Cakes (no, not fairy cakes, these are the big ones) to sell at the Village Show. I think it’s safe to say that’s a good one!
This is a lovely, chunky book full of charm, comforting food and ordinary people. The pages are not over-glossy and that helps with the old-fashioned warm feel to the volume. James is an outspoken supporter of British food, and The Great British Village Show Cookbook is a credit to that sentiment.
The Great British Village Show Cookbook is bound to be best seller because it has James Martin’s name on the outside. However it deserves to be popular because it presents a lot of what is fine about British food and a lot of what is often forgotten. We have great ingredients and people who know what to do with them. The Village Show represents a gentle competitiveness and a pride in natural and wholesome produce.
The Great British Village Show Cookbook
Author: James Martin
Published by: Dorling Kindersley
Price: £ 12.99
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018