Cookbook Club: A Platter of Figs

Categories: News and previews

Angela Clutton reflects on the latest gathering of the Cookbook Club

I think the only way to begin this account of our most recent Borough Market Cookbook Club event is at its end, as several members headed off to the pub together. Surely that is all any of us can wish for of an evening with old and new friends—that nobody wants the fun, food and conversation to end. I rather imagine that if David Tanis had been with us, whose gorgeous A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes was the night’s chosen cookbook, he would have heartily approved.

His book is all about people feasting together. In his introduction he talks about his favourite gatherings being those at home, around simple, beautiful, seasonal food. It is a theme that runs through the book, set out as menus by seasons. Wondering what might work as a cohesive, complementary set of dishes for a summer’s weekend meal with family and friends? David Tanis has any number of delicious answers.

You may have guessed that I am a David Tanis fan. I took total pride in admitting at the beginning of the Cookbook Club event to loving everything about David’s food and how he puts it all together in this book. As was talked in detail about with the members during the evening, this is not a book aimed at quick bites for a couple of people (although there are dishes in there that can be done like that). This is a book of feasting, designed for getting people together around food and having some fun.

Duck liver breads with baked figs

Relaxed, convivial atmosphere
If the mood at our Cookbook Club event is anything to go by, then David’s dishes certainly succeed in creating a relaxed, convivial atmosphere. I hope all the many members who have been to our events will know it is true when I say they are always fun; always great connectors between people who don’t know each other, to talk, share and laugh together over food. This event was all of those things, but on another level. I honestly cannot think of an event with quite so much hilarity.

Maybe it was the jellied pigs’ ears that did it. They certainly contributed to a feeling of shared adventure, having been brought along by one of our intrepid members (to the chagrin of another who really wanted to do them). Among the dishes on our feasting table, stand-outs included orecchiette al forno, spinach cake, duck liver toasts, harira soup, and a beautiful apple tart that was worthy of a patissier.

We always say the Borough Market Cookbook Club is for people who love good food, good cookbooks and good company. We had all of those abundance. It was a Cookbook Club event that will live long in the memory. Fittingly so, as it was on the same day we announced our next set of Borough Market Cookbook Club books and dates. Each of which—I know for sure—will be their own, very special Cookbook Club experience.