most wanted: living and eating by john pawson / annie bell

THE idea of an architect renowned for his minimalist approach collaborating  with someone to create a cookbook may, in some, invoke fear. Fear that it will produce a tome of never-in-your-wildest-dreams-will-you-ever-be-able-to-recreate-them recipes accompanied by stunning images of dishes akin to mini installations, more likely to  induce tummy-rumbling than salivating.

The good news is that in this instance it was not the case. The bad news is that you may have to part with up to £150 to have the pleasure of owning the result.

Living and Eating is not a new publication; it was released a decade ago. I discovered it on Pawson’s website, perusing it upon learning that a major exhibition of his work was in its final weeks at the Design Museum

What has excited me is the book’s concept. Pawson’s affinity with simplicity has here been applied with the intention of distilling the cooking/eating process into one of pure pleasure. From the design of the kitchen and utensils used, through to the making and serving of recipes listed, attention to detail has been identified as the key to enjoyable living and eating. Not in a fastidious manner, but purely working on the notion that consideration should be given to what really matters, dispensing with the unnecessary and the distracting.

I knew that this was my kind of book when the introduction commented on four key elements to consider when preparing a dish: texture, taste, fragrance, temperature. Highlighting texture as often being the most neglected. 

Yet Pawson and Bell are not suggesting that you be mindful of these aspects only when attempting complex meals. Instead, Living and Eating is filled with recipes that are not labour intensive, and many of which are sure to have featured on your dinner table at some point. If you’re looking for guidance on top quality and stress-free cooking, eating and entertaining then this is the book for you. 

And if you have ever mused upon the varying properties of stainless steel, aluminum, copper and cast-iron saucepans, then this is also the book for you.

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