The Food Almanac is the first title from Miranda York, food writer and the founder of At The Table, "a creative platform that explores and celebrates British food culture". The book is more of a seasonal companion than a cookbook, with a month-by-month collection of recipes, cooking tips and menus sharing space with stories, poems, essays and reading lists, all celebrating food, ingredients and the seasons.
The book is illustrated by Louise Sheeran, and each chapter introduces the month ahead, reveals seasonal highlights for the larder, and offers a little bit of food history. Each month also has its own menu to show off the best of the season's produce along with a reading list, should you wish to delve a bit deeper.
October, for example, offers a potted history of quinces and an ode to soup season, a poem by Livia Franchini, spice tips from Rachel Walker, and a menu from food writer and cook Meera Sodha of parsnip and carrot mulligatawny soup, pumpkin and walnut biryani, and fennel seed shortbread.
York has brought together a heartwarming tome that informs and educates while reminding you of the ability of food to comfort and invoke nostalgia, such as celebrating the joy of eating fresh crab on a pier and simple pleasures like Christmas leftovers and a flask of tea – or something stronger. While it is not wholly instructional, it would make a lovely read for those who like to linger over flavours and recipes, get excited about the produce coming into season, and mentally curate menus for fun.
York spends a lot of the book quoting and giving space to other voices, and chef and restaurateur contributors include Yotam Ottolenghi, Raymond Blanc, Zoe Adjonyoh, and José Pizarro. However, I think she sums The Food Almanac up quite well when she says, "Eating with the seasons brings a rich variety to our lives and is, of course, more sustainable. But most satisfying of all, it tastes better. Flavour should always win."
The Food Almanac, by Miranda York (Pavilion Books, £16.99)
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