I was very excited about this book being published and the thought of it kept me going through an unexpected long stay in Madrid. P and I had gone for the weekend but he became ill suddenly and instead of being there for two nights, we were there for two weeks. I spent the nights when he was in hospital, looking at the recipes that had already been published in the Telegraph, ordering muslin from Ebay to make goats curd and investigating where to buy rennet and fresh pomegranate juice (Waitrose).
So when I finally got home and found the book waiting for me on the doormat, I invited two friends over who had sustained me with comforting e-mails and the results of Google searches on where to buy an iPad charger in Madrid. We ate goat’s curd, blueberries and watercress salad, lentil salad, and orange and pomegranate cake. It was the first of many delicious meals from the book.
It’s a book that stands out by combining well-researched, thoughtful essays on what a healthy diet really means, together with enticing recipes that you want to cook, complemented by the most beautiful photography. It’s not faddy, or didactic or simplistic. Instead, Diana Henry cuts her way coolly through the endless discussion about what we should be eating today and moves it forward. The seasonal layout means you can return to it again and again and find something new each time.
It’s a book of delights. I want to cook everything in it and I have been back to it time and time again. The theory is not new to me but may surprise those people who follow government advice and think low fat food is healthy. The red lentil and carrot kofte, the crazy salad, and the the roasted tomato and lentils with dukka crumbed eggs are now regulars in our house. I sometimes find it difficult to think of new ways of cooking fish but the white fish, saffron and dill couscous pilau is original and pretty
and the smoked haddock with Indian spiced lentils makes a welcome change from a more ordinary kedgeree.
There are some puddings and cakes. As well as the aforementioned orange and pomegranate cake, I’ve made a gooseberry, almond and spelt cake which is nutty and textured and more interesting than a normal sponge and the yogurt with honeyed saffron syrup, almonds and apricot compote feels sweetly luxurious in the depths of winter.
Now that’s Autumn is rolling round again, it’s time to look at that section of the book again and think of spiced pork chops with ginger and mango relish or a colourful celeriac, radicchio, fennel and apple salad with hazelnuts.
‘A Change of Appetite’ is a dense book and it takes time to take in all the research and the myriad flavour combinations and to track down new ingredients but that’s all part of the fun. My advice would be to dive in, pick a recipe and start cooking. At the same time, keep the book by the side of your bed so you can read the thoughtful essays and think about the way you want to eat in the future