Authors of student cookbooks are, undoubtedly, hilarious. Dividing into two types, the smug, successful “you can tell by my constant use of the words “cool” and “ace” that I’m in your age group and relate to you (please buy my book)” students, or friendly old “I’d never lie to you about the cost of oxo cubes” grannies. Browsing through books in my communal kitchen, I recently discovered a real gem of the former kind – Miranda Shearer’s “The STUDENT (its all in capitals on the front) Cookbook (complete with an illustration of a truck dumping cauliflower cheese and what looks like a crisp (?!) onto a plate…mmmm tasty). It’s available, new and used from the bargain price of £0.01, and in my opinion, worth every one penny.
Miranda’s introduction seeks immediately to establish herself as “one of us” stating she hopes that we don’t use her book “to roll a joint”. I’m sorry, what?! At £7.99 in real book shops, surely a packet of Rizla’s is cheaper, although perhaps less entertaining… I should also point out that this book is a hardback. In “myths and truths about what you are told to do”, Miranda goes on to say that tasting is fine, but don’t taste everything or “you will end up a fat pie muncher!”. Firstly, what does Miranda have against the harmless, trusty old pie? Secondly, what does she have against fat people? A “fat pie muncher” sounds like they’d be jolly good fun to me, much more fun than Miranda’s hilariously named friend “Dump”, who she states she “pie munches with through thick and thin”, or I venture her perhaps now ex friend “Lou the bimbo”. Hilarious advice from Miranda is rife, featuring examples such as “Poached Salmon – No, not stolen from a nearby river!”. Where does Miranda live, that she feels the need to specify what ingredients can and cannot easily be stolen?! Furthermore, she specifies that the salmon “must not be a smaller fish”, so if you were to rebel against Ms.Shearer, fail to read the second line of the article and set off pointy stick in hand, where would you find this mystical river of the giant salmon anyway? Sounds like more trouble than its worth…. I’m starting to feel a bit mean now, but to be fair Miranda really does set herself up for this… statements such as making potted crab is “easier than making a bowl of cornflakes and a cup of tea” really are laughable. Unless of course, Miranda is making her cornflakes from scratch. My absolute all time favourite is “Always sift flour to check for weevils” (written in bold to emphasise the seriousness of the issue in hand). Weevils?! Rest assured reader that there is no need to start treating your bag of self-raising like a sand pit every time you want to make a cake. A) We are not in Napoleonic times B) I have seen weevils first hand (*gasp!*). Weevils are black. Flour is white. There is no need to chuck the poor old weevils about for fun and games when you can see them from the off. Seems a bit unfair. But then maybe that’s what Miranda and her friend Dump do on their Friday nights and have a rollocking good time too, I don’t know….
Anyway, I won’t ruin your fun, there are still so many times that Miranda shares her thoughts on Jiff Lemon (“its rank!” “I’ll kill you!”) left undiscovered, and its really worth buying, honestly. I leave you with Miranda’s advice not to chop chilli and pick your nose (thank GOD she told me), and that “Nibbly bits are good”. Classic.