Learn how to make your own ketchup, bacon and jam. What more could you want from a book?
Brought to you by London’s La Cucina Caldesi cookery school, founded by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi, The Gentle Art of Preserving, as Giancarlo describes, is ‘a book of patience’, and that it is. Of course the thought of making your own tomato sauce if you’re rustling up an impromptu bacon sarnie is just unfathomable. But that’s not the point as quite rightly put again by Giancarlo: ‘It’s about waiting and discovery.’
This is definitely a book for foodies, as I doubt someone who doesn’t already adore cooking would lovingly spend six hours making their own take on the sauce made famous by Heinz, including sterilizing bottles to the perfect temperature. This is for people who are passionate for the simple things in life tasting even better and who choose to spend their spare Sundays experimenting with a lot of love, time and care. And let me tell you, the results are to die for. And that homemade ketchup is just stunning.
On meeting the husband and wife team at their book launch, Katie and Giancarlo are passion personified; Katie with the more pragmatic cooking approach and Giancarlo, the loose cannon. Commenting on the inspiration behind the book, Giancarlo speaks of his childhood in Italy, when life was simpler, and so was cooking: ‘Back in the day we didn’t even have a fridge – or a toilet!. So we had to improvise to preserve our food. But now, we are driven by supermarkets and have lost our way… we’ve lost our taste for the natural things in life.’
He goes on to explain how he was inspired by his parents in Italy, and how he wishes he was older and wiser at the time in order to absorb more culinary wisdom from them. But not all the inspiration is rooted in Italy however. Their preserves recipes for example, were inspired by Katie’s mother and the WI (woman’s institute), which Giancarlo admits he was sceptical about at first. However he was then convinced by his wife that us Brits do really know our jams and jellies. And on sampling their homemade raspberry jam with a hint of vanilla, I was completely bowled over. Truly sublime.
Katie then brought us the sciencey bit by showing us how easy it is to make your own prosciutto and how to fashion your own smoking device out of a cardboard box and some tin foil, very Blue Peter. We all then had a taste of the freshly smoked salmon along with a shot of chilli infused vodka, a nod to the use of the spirit in many pasta dishes, and which nicely balance out the smokiness of the fish.
This Anglo-Italian cooking twosome have produced a truly charming and quaint book that will make you feel warm and inspired. If the book is anything to go by, it may well be worth trying out one of their courses at the Marylebone school.
La Cucina Caldesi
118 Marylebone Lane
Tel: 020 7487 0754