Book Review… Home of inspiration

21 September 2006
Book Review… Home of inspiration

Lindsey Bareham is a food writer and former food critic, and I have a collection of well-used copies of her books. In fact, I consider two of her books, Onions Without Tears and In Praise of the Potato, as essential items in a chef's reference library.

When I first saw this title I was confused as to whether the book was about a new restaurant or just fish cookery, but I soon learnt that it's actually a book about a house: an old converted pilchard-processing factory in Mousehole, Cornwall, to be precise, where Bareham and her family have spent many long summer holidays over the years.

The house has special memories for her, and the first eight or so chapters give a sense of the place itself as well as life in Cornwall, its strong cultural identity and fishing traditions. This I found very familiar, having worked for Rick Stein in the 1990s down in Padstow.

The book broadens out into an account of the food that has been inspired and cooked at the house called the Fish Store. Not only are there a reassuring number of chapters on the actual methods of fish cooking alongside recipes and appropriate anecdotes, but also some great ideas related to eggs, chicken, lamb, vegetables and puddings. Bareham always writes with real insight and knowledge of her subject, and this enriches what would otherwise be just another recipe book. I was fascinated, for example, to learn that the Fish Store is the place where many of the recipes for Simon Hopkinson's highly regarded book Roast Chicken and Other Stories were worked on.

It's clear that The Fish Store is aimed more at the inquisitive foodie than the professional cook, but there's no doubt that it has the potential to be a source of inspiration to any chef.

Matthew Owsley-Brown, chef-proprietor, Fishes, Burnham Market, Norfolk

The Fish Store Lindsey Bareham
Michael Joseph, £20
ISBN 0-780718-14809-6

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