3 September 2013

In Defence of Jamie Oliver!

29th August ...

Today I saw, for the first time, Jamie Oliver's new much discussed book "Save with Jamie". I can't afford to buy it but I did browse for a long while. The first recipe that caught my eye and which seems to have attracted the attention of lots of other people included in its ingredient list a side of salmon. (More about this in the future here!) On closer inspection, many of the recipes (which all look fine to me, by the way, and I have always thought Jamie's food appealing) include ingredients I would not expect people on a tight budget would have much truck with: fennel, lamb (so expensive these days) and prawns, for instance.


Having said that and seeing that there has been such an outcry among foodies and bloggers as to how unrealistic this book is for "genuinely poor people" I would just like to say that, whilst I can see their points I don't suppose the book's target market is people actually below the poverty line, which officially I believe we are, but rather at middling sort of chaps (I wrote that on purpose to sound middle class!) who are now feeling the pinch but can still afford a book to pick up some new ideas.

Jack Monroe (A Girl called Jack) says people are constrained by lack of knowledge and I very much agree with her.  It has been said that my generation (fairly old!) were the last to "learn at their mother's knees "and I don't think cooking education at schools is of much use. Wasn't it Jamie Oliver, however, who started the Ministry of Food in Rotherham together with the Pass It on Campaign whereby a few people were taught some basic recipes with the hope that they would teach more people, they would pass on the info and so on.  This was a good idea I think but if you don't know Jamie Oliver or anyone else who can teach you to cook there are lots of books available to read for free in pubic libraries, lots of stuff on the telly ("massive fucking" big or otherwise) and learning the basics is so very, very worthwhile.  Just imagine being able to make yourself something quick, easy, cheap, healthy and utterly, utterly yummy.

At the end of April Global Poverty Project.challenged us to eat for under £1 a days but I didn't join in because as I really do know how to cook and how to use every scrap I often do this anyway by accident!  

I am sure Jamie Oliver knows his stuff but so do I!  My credentials ...

~   I have been a professional chef for over 30 years not only in the UK but also in several other places where I have learned a lot more than if I had stayed at home. 
~   I have lived in a small, crappy caravan (not on holiday - lived in) with a broken oven and the only working space was if I put a chopping board over the sink.
~   I have also lived on various boats at sea, moored up, on the hard, passage making and for a couple of years stuck in the mud!  None of them were well equipped to say the least. 
~   For many years I cooked professionally on a Caribbean island where supplies were very erratic so I had to be not only very inventive but in an way that would impress rich people on holiday!  In short I know how to cook even in limited circumstances. 

The only sort of cooking I haven't done is on the telly! 

Now In my own humble way I have been trying to spread the word on how to cook and how to make the most of your food. 

I have been writing a series of books on very useful, flexible recipes which can be learnt by heart then tweaked and adapted to make your own wonderful creations.  This seems far more useful than just publishing separate recipes. See here for more details.  

I have also written a real, grown up properly published book which can be of real help in making the most of all your food ...

The Leftovers Handbook: A-Z of Every Ingredient In Your Kitchen with Inspirational Ideas For Using Them:


If you want a book that helps you prepare delicious nutritious meals using even the smallest amount of leftover food and a few things you could already have in your kitchen cupboard may I recommend (and not only because I wrote it!) "The Leftovers Handbook which is very reasonably priced on Amazon and has probably five times as many recipes ideas and suggestions as Jamie's book does. Have a Look Inside and see what you think of it.

3rd September

Due to my continuing ridiculous situation with BT  I have only just got online to post this and I hear on the grapevine that Jamie himself has made similar points to the ones I make above in recent interviews.  I thought I was right!!!


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5 comments:

cumbrian said...

Just tried to download it, but it says it may not exist.

Wendy Percival said...

When Domestic Science was axed from the curriculum, wise people said at the time that the decision would come back to haunt us. And I think it has for all sorts of reasons. Even if DS only taught a few basics, it was better than no cooking knowledge at all.

I read about Jamie's new programme in the Radio Times and immediately thought of you! You two should get together and do a joint venture! :-)

Sarah Bailey said...

I think I agree with everything Suzy Bowles has said, I'm also feeling kinda sorry for Jamie Oliver. I heard loads of criticism before the television show started,and I thought it unfair to pre-judge it. I watched the first programme and like Suzy, decided that he wasn't targeting really poor people, just pushing meals that don't cost a fortune. The fact that really poor people need help in this area is yet to be addressed.
I heard that the accompanying book is ridiculously expensive, I think it is priced at £20, but I have only seen it for sale at a discounted price of £10.
I heard that there is a list of recommended equipment, which is all ridiculously expensive Jamie merchandise, there is a list in the book, with pictures, whether it is Jamie merchandise or not I don't know, I wouldn't recognise it.
I heard so much strongly worded criticism, I thought blimey, Jamie's PR team have got their work cut out getting him out of this hole, but he has got a PR team.
My own cookbook Sarah's CookerEbook available from Amazon for £2.05 has got some very economical and easy to prepare recipes in it. You don't need a Kindle to read it, because you can download an ereader free of charge from the Amazon site.
One more thing, I took on the Eat For £1 A Day For A Week challenge earlier in the year and managed to stick to it. It is possible, but it's not much fun, I wouldn't want to force people into that kind of lifestyle. I think A Girl Called Jack's recipes are wonderful, I hope she manages to persuade people to cook her way when necessary.
Sarah Bailey

Sarah Bailey said...

I agree with everything Suzy Bowler has said and I also feel 'kinda sorry' for Jamie Oliver.
His new TV series and cookbook were shot down in flames before they'd even reached the general public. I heard that the book was riduculously expensive, I think it's priced at £20, but I've only seen it on sale at a discounted £10. I heard that it recommends a ridiculously expensive set of equipment, all Jamie's mechandise; there is a list of equipment, with pictures but I've no idea if they are Jamie's products or not, I wouldn't recognise his range.
I watched the first programme and like Suzy decided the recipes weren't for really poor people, he was just pushing some recipes that don't cost a fortune. The need for cheap recipes for people who are really hard up is yet to be addressed.
There was so much strongly worded criticism that I thought blimey, Jamie's PR team have really got their work cut out to get him out of this hole, but he has got a PR team to ut some spin on things for him.
I think A Girl Called Jack's recipes are brilliant, I really hope she manages to pesuade people to use them when they need to.
My own cookbook Sarah's CookerEbook contains lots of recipes that are cheap and easy to prepare. It is available from Amazon for £2.05, and you don't need a Kindle to read it because you can download an ereader free of charge from Amazon.
One more thing, I took on the Eat For £1 A Day For A week challenge earlier in the year, I managed it, but it's not a lifestyle I would want to force people into. To be honest I found it easier than a lot of people would because I know my cookery.
Education is the key.
Sarah Bailey

SarahC said...

My Sister in law gave me the book for Christmas; I didn't keep it, because all the recipes are for very large quantities and there are only two of us - and, we are lucky enough not to have to budget very tightly for food - but the underlying principle was perfectly sound ... invest in a large key item (big piece of salmon, big roasting joint etc) and then use it in different ways to make lots of different meals (yep, with leftovers). Definitely not for the 'on the breadline poor', I agree, but perfectly sensible for families (especially large ones) who might be looking for ways to make the budget stretch.