when mrs washingmachinepost and i got married all those years ago, we made a catering pact. she would do the cooking and i would take care of the washing up; it's a situation that has continued until the present day and there's every likelihood it'll carry on that way for a long time into the future. mrs twmp is a good cook. i most certainly am not.
i can manage my porage each morning; soak it overnight, then heat it up in the morning, pop it into a bowl and plop three peach slices on top. i have managed an omelette every now and again, though none would have won a prize for aesthetics. i will admit to being a dab hand at opening a tin of beans when necessary and i make a mean peanut butter sandwich, but sadly, that's about as far as it goes.
on saturday mornings, while i'm getting bits and bobs ready for nipping out on the bike, on occasion the tv shows a cookery programme. unfortunately most of the recipes and demonstrations concern meat dishes, none of which will ever be suitable for my palate, but come the revolution etc. however, those doing the cooking make everything look so darned easy, though in mitigation, all the ingredients are easily to hand for, in most cases, professional chefs or cooks. everything i'm not, as many have pointed out.
taking all into consideration, my culinary palmares hardly qualifies me as the most apposite individual to review a cook book. even one whose cover features a wheel and sprocket and mentions the words grand tour.
author hannah grant is a professional chef whose career concerns the nutritional wellbeing of professional cyclists. well aware of the calorific intake of such individuals, she has devised a twenty stage book of recipes designed to satisfy the demands of the toughest of world tour cyclists. employed as she is/was by riis cycling/tinkoff saxo, it is not altogether surprising that bjarne has written the introduction.
"In 2006, the team decided to employ a professional chef to accompany us on the road and ensure the quality of all our meals. Ever since, we have consistently increased our focus on diet and the impact it has on performance."
it's relatively well known that the recommended daily amounts shown on the majority of foodstuffs concern the average and let's face it, sedentary individuals. those of us who ride our bikes even on only a few days per week do not quite fit into that category and there's little doubt that a few more, well-chosen calories per day probably wouldn't go amiss. however, it would hardly be scientific or even advisable simply to eat a lot more of what is already on the table. the combination of carbohydrates, fats and protein allied to visual atractiveness has to be taken into consideration.
in her own introduction, ms grant states "Since many people have a slight intolerance to dairy or gluten, most of the recipes have been devised to suit a dairy or gluten free diet." sadly this does not extend to those of us who favour vegetarianism; the majority of main courses feature pork, veal or chicken, rather excluding those from any practical examination by yours truly. however, not wishing to fall at the first hurdle, the presence of a focaccia bread recipe towards the back of the grand tour cookbook took my fancy and i figured i might feasibly manage this italian style loaf. doing so would surely enhance my qualifications for reviewing in the first place.
having purchased as close to the ingredients list as island shopping will allow, i did in fact manage to bake a particularly splendid looking loaf. disappointingly the inside was still a bit doughy, a state of affairs i was willing to accept the blame for, since i'm fairly sure i hadn't kneeded the dough long enough or well enough. oddly, the ingredients included four tablespoons of olive oil, but the instructions failed to explain what to do with them. the next attempt will be a whole lot better i'm sure.
the grand tour cookbook suffers from something of an identity crisis. pop a wooden leg on each corner and it would make an excellent coffee table. the photography pertaining to each meal is quite exemplary. printed on heavyweight art paper, the illustrations will have the reader salivating over several, if not all of the examples shown. throughout there are cameo interviews with riders such as roman kreuziger, micheal rogers, alberto contador, ivan basso and others where ms grant asks for their opinions on her progressive culinary project.
not that any of us can quite identify with such luminaries, but several comments are quite enlightening. for instance, did you know that peter sagan enjoys pancakes or waffles with organic jerusalem artichoke syrup and organic jerusalem artichoke and blueberry jam? i think i'll stick to green city jumbo porage oats if it's all the same to you.
but referring back to that alleged identity crisis, is it a coffee table book or a bona fide cookbook?
i confess on requesting a review copy of this book from musette publishing, i had no idea it was such a substantial tome. i'm a tad disappointed that the vegetarian cyclist isn't catered for to any great degree, but there are still several starters and desserts that i could scoff wholeheartedly for twenty days without diffculty. there's no real reason why a cookery book shouldn't inhabit the coffee table genre, though it does require sizeable table space on which to open and it's not quite as convenient as an a5 spiral bound recipe book. perhaps musette publishing are in the process of defining their very own category; on the basis of this example, one that ought to be welcomed with an open oven door.
the serious contemporary cyclist spends a large fortune on carbon fibre, virtually spokeless wheels and apparel that all but defies aerodynamic drag. this might all amount to very little if the engine isn't firing on all cylinders in the first place. perhaps the grand tour cookbook's £40 would be the best investment you ever make.
sunday 28 june 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................