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Book review: Vefa's Kitchen

Book review: Vefa's Kitchen
'Vefa's Kitchen' is a solid purchase- my money's on it remaining in the kitchen for years, well-thumbed and lovingly splattered.

Vefa's Kitchen
RRP £24.99

First things first; let's get the disclaimer out of the way. To avoid risk of hernia, it's in your best interests to order this weighty volume online. Don't procure it in the centre of town during high tourist season, and attempt to lug it home on the tube. That would just be silly.

For this tome might just be THE definitive authority on Greek cuisine. Held in high regard, 'Vefa's' is to Greek housewives as '1080' to their Spanish amas de casa, or 'The Silver Spoon' to Italian mammas.
Vefa is a wonderfully competent guide- I imagine her - the Med's Delia- but I'd like to feel a little more warmth and personality from her. Perhaps it just gets lost in translation.

I'm thrilled to have so many more island specialities in my arsenal, as so many Greek books focus on those over-flogged taverna staples. Emphasis on local, wild foods is ever-present- over the summer I'm looking forward to cooking up a mezze feast including Octopus croquettes from Kalymnos, Fried whitebait pie from Chios and Santorinian tomato fritters.

As ever with Phaidon, the book's a beauty- amply illustrated with typically Aegean images. It's simple to navigate, with one of my favourite touches being the inclusion of the phonetic Greek names along with their proper spellings. You can even use it as your basic bible in a traditionally British kitchen- recipes for soups, sauces, stocks and a host of other staples mean you're never stuck.
Use the book to introduce yourself to island eating, to increase your knowledge of seasonality, or to get thrifty with frugal ingredients- Vefa takes all the squeam out of offal in particular.
Whether you're a well-travelled foodtripper, a cookbook enthusiast, a seasoned Grecophile or simply a keen amateur, 'Vefa's Kitchen' is a solid purchase- my money's on it remaining in the kitchen for years, well-thumbed and lovingly splattered.
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13 August 2009
By: Zoe Perrett
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