Reviewing cookbooks is tough for me. Not because I can't find any decent ones. More because I find so many. Being a food nerd, my house is busting with them. Old. New. Beautiful. Stylish. Rustic. Hand-me-downs. And then there's the magazines. Honestly, it all gets a bit much. I'm running out of space. And when I stumbled across Shiny Happy People, by Neil Roake, I couldn't help myself. I had seen the book before, admired it and said "no" many times. I had been firm. I said it out loud. But like a moth to a flame (or more like Tiger to a cocktail waitress) I was eventually drawn in and my resistance broke. I caved. Let me tell you why...
The book is a shrine to the two most important things in Neil's life: food and friends. I can relate and wholeheartedly believe that the best way to enjoy these two things is with each other. The book introduces you to Neil's like-minded foodie friends and showcases their various signature dishes. The recipes are not too advanced for the average cook, but are still impressive enough to serve to anyone who appreciates food. There is a wide range of ingredients ranging from cheap and cheerful to lavish. Perhaps this is best illustrated by two pasta dishes, sitting happily alongside each other. One is ruote with boerewors, the other is spaghetti with crayfish. The styling and photography of the book is beautiful and captures the overriding food philosophy perfectly. It's awesome.
Honestly, if (and when) the time comes when I have to start making space and donating books to charity I'm afraid they won't be getting this one. This is staying put and is definitely one of my favourites. If you're anything like me you would do well to stay away. Or else it'll get you. Seriously, it's coming.