Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck Cookbook) takes readers on a singular culinary journey of the mind and body in Is This a Cookbook?: Adventures in the Kitchen. With three James Beard Awards and several books to his credit, the Michelin-starred chef clearly knows his way around food. But in Is This a Cookbook? he shares more of his life philosophy, in which the mechanics of cooking are only one part of a larger, fulfilling experience.
Is this a cookbook? Yes, but in Blumenthal's world, a cookbook is more than just lists of ingredients and recipe steps to follow. Is This a Cookbook? presents 70 eclectic but approachable recipes, with commentary and cooking notes. But in these 368 pages, it's clear that his goal isn't just to teach readers to cook some Tomato and Coffee Muffins. Instead, this cookbook reads almost like a graphic novel, complete with Dave McKean's somewhat trippy art. Blumenthal's loosely structured advice doesn't follow the standard cookbook order--appetizers, salads, entrees, desserts. Some chapters can be more easily categorized around food, such as a chapter on simple sandwiches ("The Mindful Sandwich"). But others are more about overall wellness, such as "The Fermentation Station: Ready to get to grips with the gut-brain and the brain-gut?"
Is This a Cookbook? is not just a reference book. It's a book to sit with, read cover to cover and then revisit for whenever inspiration is needed--or a reminder to slow down and fully experience life. --Suzanne Krohn, librarian and freelance reviewer