Here we are for the second review of our Christmas Special Week! Last time, we brought you the amazing story of Apollonia Poilâne, a Harvard University freshman, that took over a global business after her parents died. Today we bring you a different story. One that begins with a chicken! Midnight Chicken Cookbook puts together a collection of recipes and reflections that reveal the life-changing happiness of cooking.
The Midnight Chicken is considered to be one of the best cookbooks of 2019. Its story is about Ella Risbridger and how food was important to her while some difficult times in her life.
One rainy Monday, shortly after her 21st birthday, Ella Risbridger left her London apartment, intent on ending her life. Depressed and anxious, she had recently quit her job; she rarely left her apartment, except on that particular day when she tried to step in front of a bus headed to Oxford Circus. The world had become overwhelming. Sound were too loud, colors were too bright, everyone moved too fast.
One night she found herself lying on her kitchen floor, wondering if she would ever get up – and it was the thought of a chicken, of roasting it, and of eating it, that got her to her feet and made her want to be alive.
Midnight Chicken begins with Ella Risbridger’s story but it’s has everything a cookbook needs. Besides this inspiring story, there are more than 80 recipes here, from breakfast to dessert. But it’s more than a list of instructions on how to make a really good roasted chicken, a proper roast garlic and tomato soup or salted caramel brown butter brownies. It’s about of how making these foods, or any foods can be a profoundly rejuvenating experience.
The recipes in this book are a mixture of simple things that everyone should have lying around. Trashy food for quick pleasures, and fabulous looking food for breakfasts, picnics, last-minute dinner parties and life in general. Nothing is too complicated, and most of them don’t ask for too many ingredients. It’s the kind of cooking that is probably better if you’ve got a bottle of wine open and a hunk of bread to mop up the sauce. It’s comfort food at its best!
Midnight Chicken is, by Risbridger’s own account, a rookie cookbook, with some quite British and basic recipes.
The book it’s gorgeous to look at, with delicate watercolor illustrations by artist Elisa Cunningham that are alternately instructive diagrams or mood pieces: pickles dancing down the margins on this page, directions for how to braid challah on this one, a double-page spread showing an idyllic park picnic over there.
In this book food is the main metaphor through which Risbridger thinks about life. In this book, food is a means of soothing, a means of healing.
Midnight Chicken “is a story of eating things, which is, if you think about it, the story of being alive. More importantly, this is a story about wanting to be alive”. This is a cookbook to take to the kitchen, but also a book to settle down and read it with a cup of tea and discover that it’s an annotated list of things worth living for.
Midnight Chicken is a book about the power of cooking to provide comfort, a framework for living and loving and recipes to savor and save.