Book Review: British Seasonal Food by Mark Hix

This book is something really special from Mark Hix, the clever restaurateur and ingredients expert behind Le Caprice, The Ivy, J. Sheekey, Hix Oyster & Chop House and HIX. It’s the slightly more affordable paperback version of the epic hardback he had published in 2008.

What do you need to know about it? Well, for starters, it’s gorgeous. Beautifully laid out, full of appealing photography and quirky illustrations, and clearly brimming with enthusiasm for the best of our British ingredients. It would make a great gift, or you could treat yourself if you’re hankering after some inspiration.

The bottom line with Hix’s cooking is flavour and quality, but bargain hunters will also like many of his thrifty, and often sustainable, ideas. There’s a lot of information here about foraging food for free, and getting the full use out of meat, fish and vegetables to minimise waste. I also like his comments about when it’s worth paying more for certain ingredients and when it definitely isn’t.

It isn’t too gardening-focused, but home-growing fans will find all kinds of passing information about different kinds of fruit, herbs and veg to inspire their kitchen garden planning. It includes mentions of the main cropping seasons, but there isn’t much about planting or good things for small gardens.

One of the most useful features of British Seasonal Food is that each of the monthly chapters focuses on a tiny handful of ingredients that are at their best. There are several recipes based around each ingredient, ranging from the very simple to the showy, which shows you how to use up plentiful supplies and make the most of a glut. This includes preserves, and soups and other meals that can be frozen.

Unusually, I can’t find anything to be particularly critical about. So, to sum up: an elegant, engaging book full of handy information and enticing recipes.

The paperback edition of British Seasonal Food by Mark Hix is available from the 4th of March 2011, published by Quadrille, with an RRP of £14.99. It’s currently available to pre-order from Amazon for £9.74, including free delivery.

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  1. This looks great… I couldn’t afford the hardback so I’ll definitely be ordering this. Thanks Penny!

  2. Hi Jackie! Paperback cookbooks don’t last quite as long as hardback ones, but they’re a fair bit cheaper. Do you have a book stand? They help keep the books nice for longer. P x

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