As we leave the chaos that is Freshers week, I imagine many hungover Freshers and ex-catered second years are facing a terrifying realisation: takeaways and cold baked beans will not sustain you for an entire year. It’s time to learn how to cook, and I know just the lady to teach you.
Best known for her impeccable floral blazers and gently worded critiques of soggy bottoms on The Great British Bake-Off, Mary Berry indisputably falls into the ‘national treasure’ category of British cooks. The seventy-eight year old has been guiding the nation around a gastronomic learning curve for over forty years, and has now chosen to revert back to basics for her latest offering. One of my earliest memories of cooking is of standing next to my grandmother in her kitchen, perched precariously on a stool, as she patiently explained each step of producing the perfect mince pie. Whilst testing out recipes from Mary Berry’s Cookery Course, I felt like I had been transported back to that kitchen, minus the stool.
Berry’s writing style is simple and comprehensive, but at the same time manages not to be condescending. Whilst assuming that her readers have at least a basic grasp of culinary knowledge, she incorporates subtle hints and tips, as well as a technique finder for the more clueless cook. The book itself is beautifully presented and split into twelve sections, covering everything from her signature Victoria sponge to cheese soufflés and an impressive three-seed crown loaf. The recipes are kept short and straightforward, with pictures to demonstrate how to carry out the more complex elements. However, a full list of recipes is not featured on the contents page, so be prepared to search through the vast index in order to find the dish you want.
Unfortunately, it’s deemed socially unacceptable to take your grandma to university with you, but Mary Berry’s Cookery Course is the next best thing. All hail Mary, the Queen Mother of Cooking. Long may she reign.