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I adore Meades’s book . . . I want more of his rule-breaking irreverence in my kitchen.
New York Times

The Plagiarist in the Kitchen

Jonathan Meades
Status: published
Publication Date: 06.04.2017
  • Paperback
  • Ebook£5.99
I adore Meades’s book . . . I want more of his rule-breaking irreverence in my kitchen.
New York Times

‘I adore Meades’s book . . . I want more of his rule-breaking irreverence in my kitchen’ New York Times

The Plagiarist in the Kitchen is hilariously grumpy, muttering at us “Don’t you bastards know anything?” You can read it purely for literary pleasure, but Jonathan Meades makes everything sound so delicious that the non-cook will be moved to cook and the bad cook will cook better’ David Hare, Guardian

The Plagiarist in the Kitchen is an anti-cookbook. Best known as a provocative novelist, journalist and film-maker, Jonathan Meades has also been called ‘the best amateur chef in the world’ by Marco Pierre White. His contention here is that anyone who claims to have invented a dish is delusional, dishonestly contributing to the myth of culinary originality.

Meades delivers a polemical but highly usable collection of 125 of his favourite recipes, each one an example of the fine art of culinary plagiarism. These are dishes and methods he has hijacked, adapted, improved upon and made his own. Without assuming any special knowledge or skill, the book is full of excellent advice. He tells us why the British never got the hang of garlic. That a purist would never dream of putting cheese in a Gratin Dauphinois. That cooking brains in brown butter cannot be improved upon. And why – despite the advice of Martin Scorsese’s mother – he insists on frying his meatballs.

In a world dominated by health fads, food vloggers and over-priced kitchen gadgets, The Plagiarist in the Kitchen is timely reminder that, when it comes to food, it’s almost always better to borrow than to invent.

Poulet a l'Oignon / Chicken and onions

This comes from my friend Jean-Pierre Xiradakis who serves it at La Tupina in Bordeaux, a restaurant that has been rightly hymned as 'paleolithic'. It is possibly the best restaurant in the world, certainly my favourite...Xiradakis got this dish from the writer and journalist Yves Harté who in turn got it from his mother who...

The recipe he gives in La Cuisine de La Tupina proposes that for four people a chicken should be cut into eight pieces. I prefer to use four legs since they will all cook at the same rate. I also double the quantity of onions that he prescribes (think of soup the next day).

2 kg sweet onions

4 chicken legs

1 glass of chicken stock

1 glass of white wine (optional)

a few scraps of raw ham (optional)

Slice the onions thinly. If your processor has the right kit use it. Whatever you do don't turn them to mush. Do NOT sweat them. Trust me.

Brown the chicken legs in duck fat or olive oil.

Put half the sliced onions in a high sided pan with a lid.

Add the chicken legs ( and ham scraps).

Put in the rest of the onions so that the legs are buried.

Pour in stock (and wine).

Cook at mk 4 for an hour.

As Xiradakis says you will have scented the whole house.

Guinea fowl legs with branch celery is a spin-off worth investigating. Again, slice the celery thinly but don't blanch it. Do brown the legs.

Pasta e Ceci / Pasta and Chickpeas

This one fell off the back of Alastair Little. It also derives from the version served at Mimi alla Ferrovia in Naples. There is a further correspondence, with the Cypriot houmous soup prepared long ago by the Koritsas family at their delightful café opposite Camden Town underground station

500 gr chickpeas

500 gr pasta (rombi or pappardelle)

Olive oil

4 sticks celery

6 cloves garlic

1 hambone

Soak chickpeas overnight. Cook them for a three or more hours with the hambone at a low temperature, just simmering. Sweat celery and garlic. When they're soft add nearly all the cooked chickpeas. Put the lot through the processor. Use chickpea water and oil to get a soupy consistency. Cook the pasta, add to the soup. Decorate with the remaining chickpeas - or don't bother.

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