“When you cook for someone, you are saying – here, eat this, I hope you will love it. When you share food, you are sharing the pleasure of taste and of hunger satisfied.”
Denis Cotter, April 2011
“So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it... and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied... and it is all one.”
M.F.K. Fisher, The Gastronomical Me, 1942
Love. Hunger. Satisfaction. And cooking. Denis Cotter's new book is a cook book, because it is focused squarely at the pleasure to be had by the cook in the act of cooking. In this sense, it turns the normal work of a cookery book on its head: For The Love Of Food is about the moment when you create, combine, improvise. It is all about that moment of which M.F.K. Fisher wrote: “There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk”.
Cotter, right from his first book, has always been brilliant at getting to the heart of the process, illuminating why he cooks the way he cooks better than any living chef. But he has stepped up the ability to look into the process with this, his fourth, book, and the result is thrilling. The new book is funnier, looser and more descriptive than he has allowed himself to be in the past. He isn't concerned with the standard format, so the chapters are about Bowls, or Mash, or Sweetness, or food that is All Wrapped Up. The writing is utterly crystalline, and wise – “Rhubarb will always demand attention"; “Soup is for sharing, and the ingredients are less important than the spirit of the thing and the people gathered around it”; “If aubergines were kids, they'd bring you breakfast in bed, vacuum willingly, and pour your wine just before you thought of needing a refill... all the while being brainy and sporty without being a nerd or a jock”.
If Denis Cotter wrote music, then this would be his “Air on a V(egetarian) String”. He has written four books, all are masterpieces, but this is the best of all, his Gastronomical Me.