Price: £20, or £9.20 on Amazon
Available from: Bookshops, real and online
Initial Reaction: Wow. Hungry? is a gorgeous and very stylish book. If you know innocent smoothies then you’ll be familiar with their quirky sense of humour and great design, and the book really builds on that distinctive feel. It’s a visual feast – which is odd considering that it isn’t dominated by images of the actual food, but the illustrations, bold design and ‘real’ photography are a delight.
Pros: My favourite thing about Hungry? is all the extra bits. There are funky illustrations scattered through the book, which will entertain children from preschool to teens. The lists of how to fill time when you’re waiting for things to happen (a sauce to simmer, a roast to roast) are hilarious. Where recipes are brief (like the many variations on cake toppings), they’re illustrated and organised to make them really appealing. Throughout the book, ideas just jump off the page.
This isn’t just a recipe book – it’s a book all about food. It encourages the reader to eat seasonally, to learn about the ‘why’ of cooking and not just the ‘how’ – but it does it in an informal, accessible way. Some cookbooks can be off-putting and make proper food seem difficult, or beyond the aspirations of the average reader – Hungry? is the exact opposite. The mix of healthy, quality food and everyday fun and games (popcorn-eating games to play while you’re watching a film, a strange and totally random story about a boy and an army of prawns…) means that kids will pick this book off the shelf and be drawn in. It’s a book for all the family, and drives home loads of excellent food messages without being patronising or preachy.
The ‘fruit-n-veg-o-meter’ in the back of the book is just fantastic. There’s space to draw the portions of fruit and veg you’ve eaten each day together with some useful information on how much makes up a portion. The best charts sent back to innocent even have the chance of winning a t-shirt.
The baking section is massive and full of interesting new recipes – quite a few are healthier than your average cake too.
The ‘Alternative Contents’ is genius – some of the best recipes, but organised a differently from the other contents so that it’s really easy to find what you need.
Cons: As I mentioned above, there aren’t as many images of food as you would expect. When I’m cooking, I like to see what I’m aiming for (have I got the colour and texture right?) and while some of the recipes have a picture of the final dish, lots have shots of people instead. This adds a lot of character to the book, but it’s not ideal if you like to follow rules and recipes strictly.
A couple of the things we made didn’t turn out quite right – my veggie burgers were delicious but really soggy (I think maybe my courgette was too big and my carrot too small?) and the Tiny banana and chocolate cookies were full of healthy ingredients but unfortunately tasted a bit too healthy (my kids loved making them, but generally refused to eat them) – next time I might sneak a couple of tablespoons of sugar in the mix.
Quite a few of the recipes here (especially, I thought, in the Meat section) are classics modern family dishes: spag bol, cottage pie, beef stew – I have a family, I already have recipes for these things that I’ve tweaked and perfected over the years. But given that the other sections are full of interesting, innovative and tempting dishes, I’m happy to move on from the meat.
Value for money? At the current price on Amazon, absolutely! Definitely yes. Go and buy it now!
Overall Reaction: Despite being able to pick some faults with this book, I do absolutely love it. It makes food and cooking fun and non-threatening and it would be absolutely perfect for getting the whole family involved in cooking and eating together. My kids really enjoyed cooking from it (although they’re a bit little to properly appreciate it) and my husband thought the food was really tasty. Hungry? is both beautiful and functional and would make a fantastic gift to be used and treasured for years to come.