Book review: Funky by Caitlin Ruth

22 February 2024 by
Book review: Funky by Caitlin Ruth

A whole book on pickles and potions that shows how pickled food can help elevate a meal to new, zingy levels

Blasta Books, a nifty little series of A5 recipe books each detailing a specific aspect of cooking, from tacos to soup, is already on its ninth edition with Funky by Caitlin Ruth. The books work well as a collection, as chefs can pull one off the shelf according to what they need for that day, but can also be taken individually (as long as you're not one to suffer FOMO).

Funky is all about fermentation: a whole book on pickles and potions that shows how pickled food can help elevate a meal to new, zingy levels, with sections such as easy veg pickles, soy pickles, condiments and the classics, which shows different ways to make use of the pickle projects you might already find in your fridge.

Of course, there's a recipe for classic dill pickles, as well as five surprising ways to use them, and a ‘West Cork kimchi' that keeps in mind what a local chef might be able to find grown nearby. There's a rustic Irish twang throughout the book that reminds the reader that this is for the operators who may struggle to get their country guests to step outside of their comfort zone, or want to try new things while staying true to their local roots.

All the books in the Blasta series cut down on production cost, using illustrations instead of big budget photography, leaving room to hear from less-well-known authors who traditional publishers may not have taken a chance on. The author of Funky, Caitlin Ruth, is one such voice, having worked in restaurant kitchens since she was 12 years old and now running a food truck in West Cork.

Her recipes shine a light on the entire spectrum of pickles, a stand out being fermented watermelon rind salsa, which not only provides a great idea for a dish but also encourages the use of food waste, as well as a recipe for mackerel escabeche, should you find yourself with an excess of fish, or one for fiery pickled sausages that are bound to get tummies rumbling.

Blasta Books may be small, but it's mighty, and Funky is far from sour, rather a sweet little flavour-bomb to take a chance on yourself.

Funky by Caitlin Ruth (Blasta Books, £13)

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