Mothercook no Masterchief

I have a thing for Gino D'acampo. No not that sort of a thing! He's my 'go to' for all food Italian. I can't remember when the obsession started - perhaps it was the chance buy of his baked Italian in T K Max (it has a recipe of Rum Baba which brings back fond memories of hubby's and my first holiday together in Genoa 15 years ago) or maybe I had already been transfixed by the title 'Gino's Pasta' in a bookstore. All I know is my love of pasta drove me to buy a book on pasta so I could extend my meagre repertoire beyond pasta, veg and cheese (which funnily enough is what most variations are based on ). I have never looked back. His recipes have never failed me. They are easy, quick and you can do them on the spot knowing they will always turn out right. And so I had to collect the rest of his books. I cleared a small cupboard in the kitchen to make space for my cookbook library. I added Sophie Wright (good for weekly meals and do it once and you can vaguely remember what you did thus feeling like a proper cook), Meals in Heels (and the Skinny version), Mary Berry's Sunday Lunches, two of Clodagh Mc Kenna's, cookbooks from travels and the almighty champion of them all: the Avoca cookbooks! No house should be without Avoca, they will never leave you down whatever the occasion! 

So what has this achieved (apart from running out of shelf room so the baking books sit in a drawer in the sitting room, only taken out to imagine making the treats someday)? Weekend meals have upped their game but I can't help feeling strangely illerate. I rely on the recipes. I'm sure if you stuck me in a holiday cottage somewhere and asked me to throw together a meal I would still end up doing pasta, veg and cheese. I am like someone trying to play concert piano but need the sheet music. Sometimes I think I should learn a few off by heart. Other times I think a course will help. I never did cooking or home economics in school. I rely on Waitrose magazine to tell me the difference between baking soda and baking powder. As for beating the white of an egg? No clue what a peak, soft or stiff is. Maybe you learn through visual - someone once said it is all about the technique not the recipe. Hubby knows quite a bit from watching cookery programmes, a hangover from his daytime TV watching student days.

I recently read the book 'Perfume' and there was a line in it referring to a perfumer as being a cook and never a chef. Is that what I am, always the cook? Let's face it I could stare at flour, milk, sugar and eggs my whole life and couldn't work out how the hell to turn them into cake. But is it so wrong to be happy to want to cook, to accept I am no domestic scientist and will never quite get the combinations of ingredients right from my head ? My kids watch and help. Maybe it will become innate for them. Maybe when they are out in the big bad world fending for themselves culinary wise, they will look back on their mother's cooking and smile. It's fed many a table conversation and that's what it is about: eating together, being together.