Taste by Sybil Kapoor
Many of us are familiar with Sybil Kapoor, the twice Glenfiddich Award winner, contributor to the Observer Magazine, the Saturday Independent and not forgetting her monthly articles in Waitrose Food Illustrated. The author of two highly successful cookbooks, Modern British Food and Simply British, she looks set to add another string to her bow with Taste, surely another Glenfiddich Award in the offing. Partner her writing with David Loftus's dazzling photography and you are certainly on to a winner.
In her latest book, Sybil Kapoor has chosen to look at taste and our perception of this sense. In this thoroughly researched book, she approaches her subject in a technical manner with the dissection of the elementary tastes. There are five tastes, sour, salt, savoury (umami), bitter and sweet. As Sybil Kapoor explains, Each one affects our perception of the others, as a squeeze of lime juice on some ripe papaya will quickly prove. The lime's acidity transforms the bland sweetness of the papaya into a sensual piece of fruit that oozes sugary, fresh sweetness. Add a few grains of salt and these tastes are magnified.' Try this exercise in its three stages and all will become clear. From the start, you realise that the message in Taste is being put across in a very digestible way. Once you have understood the basics, you will look at food in a different light.
Taste is a manifesto on increasing your understanding of food and a route to better food all round. Sybil Kapoor, as only she can, delivers this message with a sensual style. We urge you not to pick and plunder this book but to travel with the author as she looks at the five tastes and then broadens your horizons with clear-cut recipes. The recipes are uncomplicated and not surprisingly burst with flavour.
Sybil Kapoor equates the five tastes to a palette of primary colours. She tells you how to get the most out of them and then leaves you the artist or is it the alchemist to create the masterpiece.
208 pp. Photography by David Loftus. £20
Published by Mitchell Beazley.
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