Snack Hacks, a cookbook for people who like games, is a strange delight

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“Chop the parsley,” he writes, “just enough to discipline it.” There is a poetry to a good recipe, a way of looking at the world that transports the reader. Fergus Henderson, the founder of St John, which is the greatest restaurant in the world if you ask me, is in the kitchen. He has some parsley. He wants to chop it. How much? Just enough…

That line rattles around in my head all day every day. Chop the parsley… I have been to St John several times now, and Fergus is always there at a table. Why wouldn’t he be? If you’ve created the greatest restaurant in the world, where else are you going to head for lunch? I have read and re-read his cookbook, too, a vast white slab of a thing, pink fore-edges, a bit of texture to the cover. Mostly I read and re-read the recipe for bone marrow on toast. Chop the parsley, just enough, discipline. Wonderful stuff, parsley.

It’s not just Henderson. Eat Me is my second-favourite cookbook, written by Kenny Shopsin, proprietor of a tiny restaurant in New York that I have always been afraid to go into because Shopsin often took against people instantly and denied them a seat at the counter. Shopsin died last year, sadly. He sounded wonderful. I still look in the mirror sometimes and see a person that Shopsin would have disliked. In Eat Me, right, he is telling you how to make his chili, which is the greatest chili in the world if you ask me. I make this chili at least once a month, I even have a cooking pot that I bought specially. And how hot should you make the pot before you begin? Hot enough, says Shopsin, to bounce a drop of water off the bottom of the pan.

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