The Hairy Bikers’ Family Cookbook

Food-loving telly fans will be aware of the existence of those great grizzlies of grub. This book, Mums Know Best: The Hairy Bikers’ Family Cookbook, accompanies the TV series of the same name.

The Hairy Bikers’ Family Cookbook

During the course of filming several TV series, Si King and Dave Myers have gunned their bikes’ engines and carried their not insubstantial girths the length and breadth of the UK – and beyond – in search of recipes with a sense of place.

The Hairies’ most recent book accompanies the current BBC series Mums Know Best. As the title suggests, the book and programmes are all about family cooking, with a collection of much-loved meals, many gleaned from the recipe-swapping fairs the Bikers held throughout the UK. Chapters are entitled Family Favourites, Show-off Food, Good Simple Suppers, Birthday Treats, Sunday Dinners and Picnics.

The book begins with ultra-trad recipes for fish and chips, pies, mince-based dishes and simple soups. So far, so predictable. Things get more interesting, though, with ideas from the community groups who came to the recipe-swapping sessions, including the Bradford Curry Project, the Gurkhas, West African and Caribbean societies and the Chinese Older People’s Group. Recipes for Bradford-style muttar paneer, Nepalese mutton curry, Ghanaian guinea fowl with red chilli and sweet and sour pork from Hong Kong spice up the offerings.

Elsewhere, there are appealing dishes from cooks with roots in Estonia, the Punjab, South Africa, Cyprus, Portugal, the US and France, reflecting the multiculturalism of the contemporary British dining table. The Women’s Institute gets a look-in, too, with a lemon, ginger and blueberry flan, and a new take on scones, courtesy of the members of the North Yorkshire West Federation.

Overall, there’s a strong vein of nostalgia running through the book. It extends through the Martin Parr-esque photography to the recipes for Seventies (and older) classics such as baked Alaska, prawn cocktail, lemon meringue pie and spotted dick, making the book something of a culinary walk – or a motorcycle roar, even – down memory lane.

Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, priced £20.

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