André Simon Awards 2020: Meals books so as to add to your assortment

The André Simon Award winning titles were heralded as the champagne of the food writing world, and this year’s longlist is no different.

Named for André Simon, a French-born wine merchant, gourmet, and prolific wine writer, this is the UK’s only food and drink award and celebrates the best of contemporary writing in English.

For the first time in its history, it announced a long list of 15 books selected from more than 150 submissions.

Nicholas Lander, chairman of the André Simon Memorial Fund, praised this year’s selection and stated that they were “overwhelmed by the high quality of the books”.

He added that “Britain rediscovered home cooking in 2020, with a fifth of Brits now making every meal from scratch and expanding their repertoire of recipes since the lockdown,” highlighting the genre’s growing importance.

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This award is particularly relevant this year as the hotel industry was severely affected during the pandemic, forcing pubs and restaurants to close their doors and many facing enormous financial losses.

To honor these treasuries and the wonderful world of food writing, our round-up includes all 15 books on the long list.

From traditional recipe books to the science behind food, these are the titles you should add to your culinary collection today.

You can trust our independent summaries. We may earn commissions from some retailers, but we never let this affect the choices that emerge from real-world testing and expert advice. These revenues help fund journalism in The Independent.

‘The Pie Room’ by Calum Franklin, published by Bloomsbury Absolute

One of the chefs in the Holborn Dining Room and London’s King of Pies shares his favorite recipes in this cookbook, which has been hailed as the “definitive guide” to sweet and savory pastries. From Beef Wellington and the humble chicken and mushroom pie to rhubarb and pudding cakes to the side dishes for every cake lover, you can expect the lot. But that’s not all, the pages are also filled with his tips and tricks for pastry success. A treasure trove that will cheer you up every winter evening.

Buy now £17.39, Amazon
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‘Jikoni’ by Ravinder Bhogal, published by Bloomsbury Publishing

The passion project of Ravinder Bhogal, chef and restaurateur from Jikoni. This book, like the restaurant, is in part influenced by African and Indian flavors and a number of other ingredients such as miso and kimchi. Divided into sections for breakfast and brunch; Snacks and nibbles; Vegetables and salads; Fish and shellfish; You can find poultry and meat, and finally sweet things and desserts, on the pages “fake recipes” and new world tastes and smells. It was also listed in The Independent’s Guide to the 2020 Cookbooks You Need.

Buy now £17.99, Blackwells
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‘Summer Kitchens’ by Olia Hercules, published by Bloomsbury Publishing

This cookbook explores the world of traditional Ukrainian summer kitchens. On the pages you will find beautiful pictures and traditional family recipes, from borscht with duck and smoked pears to burnt eggplant butter and tomato toast.

‘Entangled Life’ by Merlin Sheldrake, published by Bodley Head

Sheldrake’s debut is a study of mushrooms and how important they are to sustainable living. Contents range from experiments with LSD and alcoholic beverages to introducing the properties of mushrooms, including the ability to digest plastic and oil and be used as building materials.

Buy now £9.01, WHSmith
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“Falastin: A Cookbook” by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, published by Ebury Press

With more than 100 Palestinian-inspired dishes, from sweet tahini rolls to chicken musakhan, Falastin offers the option to travel from Bethlehem to East Jerusalem. Both authors have sharpened their niches in the world of Palestinian cuisine. Tamimi is the cook and co-author of several other bestselling cookbooks including Ottolenghi and Jerusalem, while Wigely similarly co-authored one of Yotam Ottelenghi’s books, Simple. While writing Falastin, both authors spent time with Palestinian and home cooks. The pages also feature stories of unheard Palestinian voices, as well as food and travel photography.

Buy now £23.99, Water stones
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“The Chicken Soup Manifesto” by Jenn Louis, published by Hardie Grant

As the name suggests, this cookbook is a celebration of the widely interpreted humble and beloved dish: chicken soup. It’s an exploration of the way it’s served around the world, from ohn-no khao swe in Myanmar to green chili chicken stew in the US. Interested? Louis shared recipes from the book with us through IndyEats.

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“The Whole Chicken” by Carl Clarke, edited by Hardie Grant

This cookbook not only pays homage to one of the most eaten meats in the world, it also proves its versatility. It starts with a step-by-step guide on how to put a chicken together, followed by the sections divided by cut: whole; Breasts; Minced meat; Thigh; Legs; Wing; Offal; Bones and skin. Expect and demonstrate how each piece of the bird can be used, and await recipes from buttered chicken to chicken pie.

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‘Nose Dive’ by Harold McGee, published by John Murray

Coming from one of the world’s foremost chemistry of food authors, McGee explores the science behind every smell we encounter, from fine foods, flowers, and fragrances. Nose Dive takes you on a sensory adventure in this often overlooked sense.

Buy now £32.55, Bookstore
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“Eating for Pleasure, People & Planets” by Tom Hunt, published by Kyle Books

When dealing with key questions like “What is sustainable eating?” Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet wants to provide you with the solutions and manifestos you need to take a greener approach to eating. From practical information to recipes for daily cooking, hopefully this will encourage you to think about how we grow, trade, eat and dispose of food.

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“Oats in the North, Wheat from the South” by Regula Ysewijn, edited by Murdoch Books

A trip through the British Isles with a view of the different regional baking identities shows everything from Cornish pasties to Aberdeen Buttery Rowies. Aside from the recipes, it’s a well-researched love letter on the history and heritage of British baking, and it’s full of research and photos.

Buy now £18.74, Water stones
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‘Parwana’ by Durkhanai Ayubi, published by Murdoch Books

While this is a compilation of Afghan recipes that have been passed down through the generations, Parwana is also a celebration of family history and is meant to give readers a taste of the homeland they left behind. Expect everything from rice dishes and dumplings to pasta, chutney, and pickles. Some everyday meals, some festive dishes.

Buy now £20th, Foyles
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‘Salmon’ by Mark Kurlansky, published by Oneworld

Kurlansky, the bestselling cod author, is essentially the king of fish. This particular book is a cultural and historical appearance of salmon and serves as a call-to-action to repair the damage we have done to the species.

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“Victory in the Kitchen: The Life of Churchill’s Cook” by Annie Gray, published by Profile Books

Food historian Annie Gray examines the life of Georgina Landemare in this culinary biography. Landemare worked as the cook for Winston Churchill from 1940 to 1954 and was an “important part of the team”. Victory in the kitchen is jam-packed with recipes and personal accounts of what it was like to be on duty for the prime minister.

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‘Red Sands’ by Caroline Eden, published by Quadrille

The sequel to Eden’s award-winning Black Sea is an illustrated mix of food and travel writing. No ordinary cookbook, Red Sands allows you to travel around Central Asia. It contains human stories, stories and adventures.

Buy now £26th, Worse
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“Spoon-Fed” by Tim Spector, published by Jonathan Cape

With a huge amount of information and advice constantly exchanged about what to and shouldn’t eat, it can be difficult to really know what to trust. However, Spoon-Fed wants to offer a guide that shatters myths and questions politics, explores the science behind many medical and government food recommendations, and most importantly, provides answers.

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