How To Eat Outside (Book Review)

by Sam Bilton on November 6, 2015 No comments

How to Eat Outside low res

I read with some dismay last weekend that the popularity of bonfire night is dwindling in favour of the highly commercialised halloween. I’ve never been a fan of the latter and have become more averse to this ghoulish ‘celebration’ since I had my children. It seems somewhat discordant to encourage our little ones to effectively beg for sweets at a time when childhood obesity rates are soaring.

I love bonfire night because it is a peculiarly English tradition. Now granted when you try to explain the reasons behind these festivities to a foreigner it probably seems equally macabre (if not more so) than halloween. The burning of a Guy must appear particularly barbaric to an outsider (never mind the fate that befell the real Guido Fawkes). Never the less there is something about the smell of wood smoke and gun powder in the air which is an essential autumnal ritual for me.

Whilst I may not share food writer Genevieve Taylor’s opinion that most of the best meals are eaten outside, I do have fond memories of the food served on bonfire night. Hot jacket potatoes served with a cube of hard butter that liquifies when it meets the smoky sweet flesh or steaming tomato soup served from a thermos. Sticky ginger bread and toffee apples. All of these make an appearance in this book in one guise or another and serve as a reminder that no celebration is complete, whether indoors or out, without a supply of real food.

What is the essence of the book?

How To Eat Outside is divided into five chapters covering all manner of outdoor eating events such as picnics, barbecues, bonfires, campfire cooking and wilderness eats. Each chapter includes recommendations on useful equipment to acquire for each scenario, which is great if you are an outdoor cooking virgin like me.

Eating Out, Bonfire Night - Genevieve Taylor (10th October 2014)

Eating Out, Bonfire Night – Genevieve Taylor (10th October 2014)

About the author

Genevieve Taylor is a food writer and stylist who lives in Bristol. She has published many books on food including A Good Egg (a particular favourite of mine) and also presents food films online.

Who will like it?

If like Genevieve you are an outdoorsy type and want to jazz up your food offering the next time you go camping, you’ll adore this book.

Who won’t like it?

Whilst I like being outdoors for exercise I can’t say I’m wild about al fresco eating in the UK. Sandy sandwiches, irritating buzzy things and generally freezing my butt off do not do it for me. If you share my sentiments about outdoor eating then you probably won’t be attracted to this book.

What do I like about the book?

Despite what I’ve just said, if any book was going to entice me from my warm, dry, cosy kitchen this would do it. Genevieve’s reassuring style makes these recipes seem eminently doable even given the vagaries of cooking over an open fire. She also provides lots of helpful tips on how to make cooking outside less stressful which are particularly handy if you have kids in tow. The photography is suitably scummy too.

Eating Out, Bonfire Night - Genevieve Taylor (10th October 2014)

Eating Out, Bonfire Night – Genevieve Taylor (10th October 2014)

Eating Out, Bonfire Night - Genevieve Taylor (10th October 2014)

Eating Out, Bonfire Night – Genevieve Taylor (10th October 2014)

What do I dislike about the book?

On the whole I think this is a well constructed book in terms of the way it has been written and presented. So whilst the subject of al fresco dining and cooking doesn’t immediately appeal to me, I do believe it would make a cracking present for someone who does like the outdoor way of life.

Would I cook from it?

Interestingly, I probably would although it’s unlikely I would cook outside (many of the recipes are prepared inside to begin with anyway). As Genevieve says “good, simple un-mucked-about-with food is absolutely central to life’s pleasures”. How To Eat Outside provides an array of tasty, easy to prepare recipes which I’m sure can be enjoyed indoors just as well as outdoors.

Where can you buy it?

How To Eat Outside by Genevieve Taylor is available from Amazon priced £13.49

Sam BiltonHow To Eat Outside (Book Review)

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