Whether it was passion, skill or modesty that endeared Julia Parsons to her growing crowd of online followers, there is no doubt that her first cookbook, “A Slice of Cherry Pie”, deserves as much praise as Julia herself received for being one of the UK’s most admired food bloggers.
“A Slice of Cherry Pie” is a creative and unique interpretation of Julia’s popular food blogging journal, which she began writing in 2006. Published by Absolute Press and brought to life by the stunning photography of Christian Barnett, it is the first book of its kind in the UK and is a tribute to her talent as writer and home-cook.
As the beautiful scrapbook-like front cover suggests, Julia’s book captures her eloquent wit and knowledge as well as serving as a part-memoir of her childhood. Her culinary roots are modest, having been brought up on “honest, hearty, English food,” falling into a “love affair” with food once she left home and began cooking for herself.
The book is charmingly designed by Matt Inwood and Claire Siggery, with hand-written notes, original blog entries, quotations and childhood photographs enhancing the naturally evocative style of Julia’s recipes and writing.
Chapters are imaginatively named and are influenced by the seasons. The recipes demonstrate Julia’s natural understanding of seasonal food and flavours and can easily be achieved by the home-cook wanting their own ‘slice’ of rustic charm.
Julia opens with ‘Cherry Blossom’ when the “stars of the season present themselves in all their glory; rocket, crisp spring onions, young spinach, peppery watercress and pea shoots.” The British asparagus season is celebrated as are newly laid duck eggs. ‘Sunshine and Lemons’ inspire her summertime cooking, where she evokes happy memories of childhood, such as that now famous ‘Cherry Pie’ and an imaginatively named ‘Last Summer Fling Crumble’.
Quintessentially British ideas and recipes for outdoor eating, picnics and barbecues are shared in ‘Poppy Fields,’ as Julia packs her picnic basket with home-made Scotch Eggs and Strawberries dressed with White Balsamic vinegar. You also catch a glimpse of Julia’s love of seafood, the seaside and entertaining friends and family in ‘Linen and Tea Roses’.
As autumn leaves begin to fall Julia’s mood becomes more introspective. ‘Rain on Glass’ beckons Creamy Sausage Pasta, which has become my own family’s favourite. The book goes on to introduce the novice, non-native cook to some British classics, including a ‘Full English’, hearty roasts and puddings in ‘Wood Smoke and Roasts’.
Julia remains true to her roots with seasonal and predominantly British flavours and it is inspiring to see how her life and cooking unfold and mature as she gains confidence and inspiration through her online cooking adventures. There is a beautiful openness in Julia’s storytelling, and her cookbook demonstrates, above all, that anything is achievable if you set your mind to it. This is a confident and enchanting debut.