Food: Meals on Wheels

If you are a passionate cook, the buying of ingredients is every bit as exciting as the preparation of the food, and, of course, the eating thereof

One of the greatest pleasures I know is to plan a journey, or a little detour, around a source of stimulating nourishment. Restaurants are the obvious pit stop, and nothing gets the gustatory juices flowing like knowing that the distance between me and my gastronomic goal is diminishing by the minute.

There's an expression for it in France (Michelin France to be exact): vaut le detour. Well, I have been vauting le detour for several years now and always return home with various regional goodies. Wine, of course, but some of the other things I lugged all the way back to Shepherds Bush in August were charcuterie and cheeses from Lyons, fabulous tinned anchovies and white asparagus from a huge hypermarket in a Spanish frontier town, and, from the same source, a magnificent whole Serrano ham. Even in the smallest of French villages, regional produce is in abundance, flaunted actually, and it is irresistible. Markets are probably the best source, but small, specialist shops are just as accessible and easy to find. A bank clerk, the chemist, a policeman even, will all probably know where to buy the best ham, cheese or bottled fruit.

But what about here? Well, it's a little more difficult to know where to start, and the best sources may be more sparsely dotted about than in France, but these pockets of good food emporia are there, ready and waiting. And I presume that is why the energetic and canny Henrietta Green decided to compile a book about where to locate them. The book includes good grocers, bakers, fishmongers and butchers, some specialising in just one or two lines, such as cured hams and bacon. It also lists farm shops where you will find fruit, vegetables and good eggs. Then there are cheeses, which can be bought direct form the dairy, or the farm (telephone ahead). But there is also - and this is a very clever idea - a list of stockists alongside the entry, in case you can't get to the farm yourself.

The book is called The Food Lover's Guide to Britain (BBC Books, pounds 12.99) and a new edition has just been published for 1996-97. The first edition was published in 1993, revised and updated in 1995 and now there is this new, fully revised and expanded edition. There are more than one thousand entries, for England, Scotland and Wales, listed by county. Helpful information includes how to get to each place and at what time, and if it is a farm or smokery, for instance, where there might not be an actual shop, a contact name is given. Mail order information is given where appropriate.

If you are a passionate cook, the buying of ingredients is every bit as exciting as the preparation of the food, and, of course, the eating thereof. I have always believed passionately that a good cook can turn some relatively manky ingredient into something at least palatable. But when the ingredients are as special as, say, a piece of cured ham from a man called Richard Woodall in Cumbria, or fine flavoured pork straight from the farm in Kings Nympton, Umberleigh, in Devon, where Anne Petch rears rare-breed pigs, the results are much more likely to be a success. Without a copy of The Food Lover's Guide to Britain, one might never have known.

Perhaps its best kept secrets, however, are the shops and different specialist purveyors that turn out to be on your doorstep. Just up the road from me in Notting Hill Gate, for instance, there is a woman called Sisi Edmiston who makes the fruitiest fruit cakes, which are "...matured for as long as I can possibly manage... and contain about 98 per cent fruit". You would probably never have known about her without this book. Also (in the opposite direction) there is John and Sons, in Uxbridge Road, which deals in Yugoslavian specialities, including bottles of Napareuli, which apparently, was Stalin's favourite wine.

Roll up, roll up...

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam