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The Pauper's Cookbook by Jocasta Innes: Review
Frugal food at its best
This excellent book was first written many years ago. In fact, I bought it when I was an impoverished student so very long ago. What you see here though is a completed updated version and it's just as good and just as useful - if not more so.
Let me tell you how old this book is. I remember reading (paraphrasing) 'a pizza, if you've never come across one before is....'
Can you imagine the Dark Ages when people didn't know what a pizza was?
Those days are gone and this book has now been thoroughly revamped for today's readers, cooks and eaters - people who probably have a pizza once a week. But why buy takeouts? This book shows you how to make nourishing, cheap and, most importantly of all tasty food no matter how tight the budget might happen to be.
I still cook using the basic principles I read all those years ago in this book. I remember the author saying in the book that Mediterranean cooking was a great example. She pointed out that European peasants had been feeding themselves very well for centuries using a wheelbarrow full of pasta, local fresh vegetables and three shrimp :)
The same can be said for Asian dishes too - Indian, Chinese and so on. So this is the way I've always cooked and I'm delighted that this book is now updated for today's frugal cook; who, after all, DOES know what a pizza is but maybe doesn't know just how easy it is to make your own at home, using your own fresh ingredients to suit your own tastes which costs a fraction of what it would cost at the local takeout - and there's no need to tip the delivery man.
This book changed (and formed) my culinary life - I highly recommend it.
Who was Jocasta Innes?
And how was she qualified to teach us about eating on a budget?
Jocasta was not brought up in a poor family by any means. Her father was a top executive and the family lived in countries all over the world when Jocasta was growing up.
This cosmopolitan upbringing brought her into contact with many cuisines.
Like many of us, once she had left the family home, to attend university, she suffered from a lack of funds and so taught herself how to cook cheaply but at the same time, nutritiously.
More experience in cooking on a budget was to come. A few years before writing this cookbook, she left her husband for a (then) impoverished novelist and fed the family of four, when their total income was just £20 a week.
When she was working on the book, she worked on the premise that every meal should cost two shillings and sixpence per person. (This means eight people could be fed for one GBP).
Now generations have had the benefit of her experience and advice.
Prior to this book, people who were on a tight budget often simply opened a tin of cheap baked beans or a packet of crisps or something equally instant.
It was also brutally honest in its title. In those days,people didn't like to admit to being hard up and the word 'pauper' had sad Victorian connotations. But Jocasta Innes was the sort of woman who led a bohemian life and wasn't going to be swayed by convention.
Jocasta Innes taught us that it only takes a few more minutes to create a delicious meal that costs no more - and often far less - than convenience ready-prepared foods.
This book is for sale at Amazon and reviewers there say almost exactly the same thing - that they have been using this book for forty years. We are all so very pleased that this book has been updated - after all, we all know what a pizza is these days.
In my college days, I hadn't fully decided to adopt vegetarian diet, although meat wasn't my thing (man). I can still make meals using a boatload of pasta or rice and a few shrimp but now, I prefer to do without meat and fish altogether - saving even more money.
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- Heston Blumethal, Perfection and the 60 second Pizza...
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- Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian
Madhur Jaffrey is the acknowledged expert on Indian cooking but in this book, you'll find a collection of meat free meals from all over the world. This could be the only meat free cookbook you need.
© 2014 Jackie Jackson