Dom Stroud addresses the press reaction to Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals…
I’ve always been a firm advocate of Channel 4-favourite Jamie Oliver and I appreciated his 30-Minute Meals mantra; built on the idea that there is time to cook when you get home, and that it can be good wholesome stuff that isn’t straight out of a ready-meal box. No, your dinner wasn’t always done in precisely 30 minutes – particularly on the first attempt – but near enough.
So it was with great excitement that I unwrapped the new one cookbook to rule them all: Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals – aimed of course, at the busy nine-to-fiver.
Unfortunately, the wider press aren’t even waiting for tales of failure this time round, instead choosing to lambast the book in advance, with their own merry band of test subjects.
And so to the prosecution. My favourite take on the book came from The Guardian, who pitted a professional chef against someone who, in a fit of panic, “took a pair of scissors to the lettuce and herbs”. Unsurprisingly, the professional chef made his seared Asian beef dish with time to spare while Edward Scissorhands ran slightly over.
Likewise, the London Evening Standard overlooked the fact that you probably do need to read the recipe first, and shop for it. Richard Godwin laments that it took him 20 minutes to buy the ingredients for the golden chicken, braised greens and potato gratin, and that proposing to make it in quarter of an hour “verges on grossly irresponsible”. At least our Scissorhands made it to the kitchen…
I can understand foodies scrutinising the book and its bold claims, as I’ve no doubt it is a bit of a stretch to complete some of the new dishes in the allotted time. But part of Oliver’s act is the whole whirlwind aspect of his cooking, and in my view, the title of the book is just a way of reinforcing its underlying philosophy: that home-cooking can be quick, easy and fun rather than an arduous, dreaded daily task.
These lukewarm road-tests certainly won’t deter me from finding my own favourites in this latest tome. I’m already eyeing up a few test recipes – and I’ll be sure to get back to you with my own conclusions.