Letter: Dishing it out

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The Independent Online
While agreeing that Delia Smith has achieved outstanding success as a cookery writer and TV presenter, I must take issue with some of the points raised in "When Delia says do this..." (2 November).

As a nation of ready-meal lovers and microwave users, we owe her a tremendous debt for the enormous number of comprehensible recipes she has made available - casseroles, pasta dishes and sponge cakes, that demand no particular culinary skill. The 10 million books she has sold will no doubt ensure that many of us steer away from pre-packaged and convenience foods.

The fact that she has inspired so many would-be cooks gives hope in an age when many have little or no culinary experience.To criticise her for tampering with authentic recipes completely misses the point. In her Complete Illustrated Cookery Course, she presents a large number of standard recipes - bread and butter pudding, pancake cannelloni, traditional Lancashire hotpot, for example - which are given an alternative treatment in her subsequent, Summer & Winter Collections, - chocolate bread and butter pudding, pancake cannelloni with spinach and four cheeses, braised lamb with flageolet beans. I frequently refer to the Complete Illustrated Cookery Course for Christmas pudding, chutneys, soups and desserts, and for countless other culinary tips.

Many people lead increasingly busy lives, and it is a great relief to be a "one-stop shopper". However, many - myself included - choose to support our local specialist shops for certain items, most especially fresh fruit and vegetables, organic meat and real free-range eggs (quite superior to the supermarket equivalent).

Helen Powell