Blog: Saint Delia, I take it all back

Catherine Sleep | 3 July 2003

By the time I started cooking in earnest, the revered cookery book writer Delia Smith was no longer trendy. Having abandoned my dog-eared copy of “Grub on a Grant” after five years of preparing extremely low-budget and mainly vegetarian student fodder, it was time to introduce myself to the celebrity chefs, but Delia didn't get a look-in.

Several years later, I think of myself largely as a Nigel Slater kind of gal. This is partly because his writing style is so enjoyable – he has strong opinions about quality and integrity of ingredients and a pleasingly laissez-faire attitude when he can afford to. In the foreword to Real Cooking, for example, Slater shares the exasperation he felt when a reader called to ask whether the two tablespoons of chopped parsley were level or heaped.

A far cry from “Delia the Dictator”, and yet, and yet… some ten years after it was first published, I find myself cooking my way through Delia’s Summer Collection. And I’m really enjoying it. ALL the dishes are working out right, and for an alleged stuffed shirt, ten years ago Delia's recipes already incorporated ingredients that are only now becoming mainstream in UK cookery, like Halloumi cheese, capers and rocket. Yes, she is a bit bossy (“No, green peppers WON’T do instead of red, you fool!”), but I can live with that.

Delia's website


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