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
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'