Kirstin: It’s been an interesting month.
Anna: I hate this book. In fact it was worse than Faffolenghi in some ways. Let me tell you why.
Kirstin: Tell me why Anna.
Tom: Tell us Anna, we want to know!
Anna: Because it’s everything that Jamie shouldn’t be! An anti-Jamie book! It’s time-consuming, stressful, really difficult to follow… his first books were the antithesis of this book. As somebody who has grown up in my cooking career with Jamie, this is the opposite of what I expect from him.
Kirstin: It takes the fun out of cooking. And cooking is meant to be fun!
Tom: This is cooking as an obstacle course. If you train long and hard enough, you may be able to cook these recipes in 30 minutes.
Anna: Who has, though? None of us have managed to do any of them in 30 minutes. And we are all experienced cooks. I think it takes all the instinct out of cooking. And Jamie was always all about the instinct. It’s so prescriptive, the way you cook these meals — there’s no room for improvisation!
Kirstin: It’s not even that. You don’t want to improvise, because you don’t want to do these again.
Anna: There are some decent recipes buried in here. But they are buried. You made a good point: he doesn’t list the equipment for each recipe.
Kirstin: You have to read through each recipe to see what you need. And there’s always something that catches you out. I did enjoy making butter; I have to say, that was brilliant. And it has been good using the food processor more. I’ll definitely be doing that. But I don’t want to cook any of these recipes ever again. Though I did quite like the smoked salmon one. But I can’t sit down and eat my meal when surrounded by mess.
Anna (reading from the book in a deeply sarcastic of voice): “Once you start cooking this way, not only will you absolutely love it; you’ll never look back”…”Each of the 50 meals inside has been carefully written so there’s no faffing about!”
Tom: In other words, every second is accounted for. Just hope the phone doesn’t ring!
Peter: It is a bit too much pressure. He hasn’t gone grey, though, has he? He is starting to look a bit old for those clothes on the cover, however.
Anna: Who are these people in these pictures? “And it’s not too expensive”. That’s another thing — these recipes are expensive! When I did that chicken recipe the other day, my Ocado order cost £20 more than usual.
Kirstin: So. Jamie, we are disappointed.
Anna: Jamie, get back to what you are good at! Where’s the old Jamie?
Tom: Didn’t you say that last time?
Anna: Yes, last time he was writing these recipes in an amazingly verbose way, waffling on. I think Jamie likes the sound of his own voice too much.
Tom: He’s dictating the recipes, surely. If he’s writing them at all.
Kirstin: I’ve come round to the style of photography in this book. It has a lot of pictures. I thought it would be overwhelming, but actually it’s good.
Anna: My final point is: I totally buy into Jamie’s mission, to get people who don’t normally cook to cook, to get families to sit down and eat together more often. But this book isn’t going to do it. If I was new to cooking and I tried one of these recipes, I’d be back down to Iceland the next day. It would put me off.
Kirstin: That’s the problem. The recipes in this book don’t take 30 minutes. It’s not fun. And food should be fun.