Tuesday, 15 January 2013
Life » Food


Written by Katy Pearson
British homes are awash with unused and unloved cookbooks that are gathering dust – that’s the verdict of a compelling new study which reveals the typical Brit now owns ten recipe books featuring an average of 151 recipes per book*, yet have only attempted a paltry average of four dishes from each.

The survey of 2,000 British adults by premium Italian food brand Sacla’ found that an astonishing 40% of our cookbooks languish unopened on kitchen shelves and have never been used. Moreover, of the books we do use, the majority (54%) of us admit we refer to them a mere once a month.

Christmas was found to be an important contributor to the accumulation of recipe books, with the average British household receiving two cookbooks as presents this year alone.

Two in three (67%) British adults admitted they find many of cookbooks intimidating, indeed the books voted the most likely to be left on the shelf due to their intimidating nature and complex recipes were named as Heston Blumenthal’s ‘In Search of Perfection’ (17%), Gordon Ramsay’s ‘3 Star Chef’ (15%), Yotam Ottolenghi’s ‘Jerusalem’ (12%), Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Just Desserts’ (9%) and Marcus Wareing’s ‘How to Cook the Perfect…’ (8%).

On the flip side, Jamie Oliver (27%), Delia Smith (15%) and Nigella Lawson (7%) were named as most user-friendly authors.

Expensive ingredients (35%), time (30%), complicated recipes (29%) and difficult to source ingredients (27%) were cited as the main reasons we avoid our cookbooks. Confusing terminology can also prove a problem, with words such as “ballotine” and “cartouche” being prime examples of words we find confusing.

A third (36%) of those surveyed also admitted that they find the prevalence of French terminology in cookbooks irritating.

The findings suggest that the majority of us (53%) now prefer to find quick and simple recipes via the internet based on the ingredients we actually have in stock. Indeed, 73% of us admit that we prefer to concentrate on simple ingredients cooked well with five ingredients cited as the ideal mix by four in ten of those surveyed (26%).

Clare Blampied, MD of pesto pioneers Sacla’, who commissioned the survey, said: “Simple recipes featuring four or five key ingredients are the key to successful every day cooking. Perhaps it’s time to de-clutter our kitchens of complicated books we don’t use and embrace the Italian way of cooking fresh, seasonal recipes using simple methods and relatively cheap ingredients.”

It’s not all bad news for cookbooks however, the average British adult admits that they have a mere nine recipes in their repertoire that they can cook from memory and will still turn to the books on special occasions including birthdays (19%), Christmas (25%) and entertaining (40%). And, if the recipes don’t appeal, then it’s worth noting that many culinary books make for excellent doorstops or bookends –  six in ten of us (63%) of us admit that we use the beautifully bound books more for decoration than cooking!

Sacla’, the Italian food people, have developed a series of simple yet delicious recipes featuring a maximum of five ingredients in response to the survey results. The recipes can be accessed at www.sacla.co.uk/saclakeepsitsimple

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"AS a general rule, one’s stern duty in life seems to be to avoid the things in life that are pleasant, especially in the matter of diet."

The Lady. Living Well. 16th August, 1928
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