One Good Dish by David Tanis

Review by Patricia & Dennis Cleveland-Peck

Photographs by Gentl & Hyers published by Artisan @ £17.99

Extracted from One Good Dish by David Tanis (Artisan, £17.99). Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Gentl & Hyers.

David Tanis is a food writer whose previous books we have admired because his ethos chimes so closely with our own. At the outset of this volume Tanis  says, ‘while I do enjoy those rustic seasonal multicourse meals, that’s is not they way I cook and eat day to day,’ a sentiment we thoroughly echo. We were thus looking forward to this book thinking that it would be about tasty, labour-saving dishes cooked in one pot.

Well, as Tanis admits, this ‘is and isn’t’ quite what the book is about. What it is, is ‘an eclectic collection of favourite dishes… to be eaten at any time of day, with or without accompaniment’ and some of these dishes are in fact snacks, ‘more like tapas than meals.’ Many in fact, such as ‘real garlic toast’, ‘cucumber spears with dill’, ‘red beet salad’, ‘spaghetti with bread crumbs and pepper’ and ‘flavoured water for a heat wave’  are  very simple indeed.

As we looked more closely at this book however, any initial disappointment was dispelled and its true value began to emerge. We realised that that it is important to read – and use this book for what it is, a very personal take on food and eating and not what it is not.

None of the recipes is meant to ‘correspond to a traditional time-of-day-for-a-certain-type-of- food mentality’ but many are unusual and some are inspiring. Tanis’s take on winter minestrone for example, consisting mostly of  earthy, creamy, slow cooked white beans with pancetta, roasted winter squash and rosemary, is not the usual Italian minestrone but simply and deliciously, typical Tanis food.

It was his recipe for steamed new potatoes with aromatics however, for which he had been inspired by potatoes that had been steamed over a bed of wild thyme in the South of France, that brought it home to us that this is really a book of new, original food ideas – something we and many cooks are more often in need of than volumes of complex recipes.

The photography is mouth wateringly superb throughout and excellently complements the text. Form and function…

Extracted from One Good Dish by David Tanis (Artisan, £17.99) Copyright ©2013. Photographs by Gentl & Hyers.

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