Christopher Hirst

Christopher Hirst is an award-winning food writer and freelance journalist.

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The Mystery of Princess Louise by Lucinda Hawksley - book review

Life of a royal rebel spiced up by secrets and scandals

Books of the year 2013: Food

Are you an anarchist or an acolyte in the way you use cookbooks? Two food experts who face each other across the Atlantic have radically differing recommendations. In One Good Dish (Artisan, £17.99), David Tanis, formerly head chef of the legendary California eatery Chez Panisse and now food columnist on The New York Times, selects his everyday favourites such as Spanish garbanzo bean stew, warm potato salad with peppers and onions or mussels on the half-shell with breadcrumbs and parsley (highly recommended). "I hope you don't follow these recipes slavishly," he concludes. "Improvisation and ad-libbing make life in the kitchen much more interesting."

Paperback review: The Secret Lives of Men and Women

Described as “hilarious and heart-warming”, this is a deeply weird book based on a US website that features anonymous postcard messages.

Paperback review: British Gothic Cinema, By Barry Forshaw

Fans of Hammer will relish its defence in this erudite survey, particularly against the insistence of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee that they had merely made “colourful fantasies”. In Forshaw’s view, Curse of Frankenstein is “deeply visceral”, while Dracula is “subversive… perfectly constructed”.

Paperback review: An Essay on Typography, By Eric Gill

Even if the sexual activity of Gill was not widely known in 1931 when this classic work was first published, his repeated references to “love-making” might have suggested that his interests were not purely typographical. On the latter subject, he is authoritative: “Lettering is for us the Roman alphabet.”

Paperback review: Nothing, Edited by Jeremy Webb

This book starts with a bang, a very big one 13.82 billion years ago, when an object “roughly the size of a pea” transformed nothing into something.

Paperback review: Inconvenient People, By Sarah Wise

The epic, entertaining drama of madness and its misdiagnosis

Queen cucina: Anna Del Conte - Britain's indisputable authority on Italian cooking - shares a few of her top tips

Spaghetti should never go with bolognese, and salad should be tossed 33 times in its dressing...

Book review: The Book of Legendary lands, By Umberto Eco

A polymath's keen rumination on utopias – with a generous helping of piffle

Book review: Iron Curtain, By Anna Applebaum

This impressive work shows how Stalinism crushed the life, pleasure and efficiency from Eastern Europe after the war.

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