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It’s ​a jungle out there. With the number of TV chefs vying for our attention (along with all their attendant books), we really need to hack our way through the foliage to discover those worthy of our attention. With Rachel’s Food for Living, Rachel Allen moves effortlessly to the top of the pile, and this book (which accompanies a 13-part BBC prime-time series) does full justice to its video version. What distinguishes Rachel Allen from so many other chefs is the way in which she appreciates that food must be integrated into our lives, rather than just being fuel or a way of showing off our culinary skills. As Allen points out, food can be restorative, nurturing and emotionally fulfilling, even apart from its tastiness. As she reminds us, the ritual of eating may be formalised or spontaneous, and the appreciation of the way in which we can approach food in different ways is very much at the heart of Rachel’s Food for Living.
But if all of the above sounds a little forbidding, it should be noted that the book here functions admirably as a guide to the best available food – and leaving aside any philosophical underpinnings, there are over 100 delicious recipes included here, from Perfect Lamb Stew and Chicken with Lemon and Honey to Banana and Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding. The recipes are presented in as user-friendly a fashion as possible, with full-page illustrations showing us just what we can aspire to in our own kitchens. When Allen says this book is filled with foods which have special meaning for her, her family and friends, it makes clear the personal nature of the recipes on offer here.

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