So then we move on to the recipes. I have tried to make several of these. Observations:
- Such a pain to find "marinate for at least 60 minutes" sneaked in to the small print. Does he think we have all day to cook his stuff?
- A phenomenal number of different ingredients. 25 just to make leek fritters - why such complexity?
- Must he be so specific about amounts? What is 30 grams of basil, for God's sake - a handful, a tablespoon, a bucket? Does he really think we can be bothered to weigh basil?
- Biggest crime by far: the obscure ingredients. Trying to use up some spare courgettes, I turned to his courgette salad. But this requires cob nuts (or substitute with shredded coconut, thanks a lot), hazelnut oil, and purple basil leaves. What is he thinking of? I live in central London and I can't get hold of this stuff. How is anyone else going to cope?
- Turn to another recipe, for marinated buffalo mozarella. Ok, got all that stuff; hang on, except for rapeseed oil. Rapeseed oil? What is he thinking of? Why is it needed, for a minor variation on an Italian salad?
Just about every page in this book either asks for ingredients that nobody will have at home (tamarind pulp!), or are are impossible to buy (verjus! Dried Iranian lime!). The recipes are extremely fiddly and time-consuming. And after all that, the results are pretty ordinary.
Compare and contrast the River Cafe's great cookbooks. These can be annoying at times (famously calling for "6 lemons, the freshest possible" in one recipe) but they are clear, simple, and the food tastes good.
Worst of all, the author is such a bighead. On page 38, someone who cooked his garlic tart (and who perhaps is financially dependent on him) calls it 'the most delicious recipe in the world', to which Ottolenghi says "What else can I add?" Since you ask, how about 'Sorry for being so up myself?'
* * * * * * *
One Day. Screenplay by David Nicholls
This film is good enough that you don't notice the oddities until well after leaving the cinema.
- Why all the scenes of Anne Hathaway in a swimming pool? This breaks the Holywood rule that everything in a film should mean something - for example, when you see a gun in scene 1, you know it will be fired at some point. So - is she going to drown later on? Will she meet a new lover at the pool? No. My guess is that someone thought we regularly needed to see the star in a bathing costume - not a bad idea, but pointless for the story.
- Ditto her friends. Where are they? She is a personable creature - surely she would have a bunch of mates, and close friends (some of whom would tell her not to waste her time with the shagger J.S.)
- The reviews all talk about her being working class, but there is zero information about this in the film. In fact the only hint is in the other direction, when she says "My dad has a fax machine in his office".
- And how come such an otherwise feisty woman is so willing to forgive the fact that he's been out sowing his oats while she's been pining away for him?