Reviewing A Unique Cookbook: Midnight Chicken & Other Recipes Worth Living For

28 Sept 2021

Recipe book review: Midnight Chicken

I think this may be one of the best recipe books I have ever had the pleasure of owning. I know, I know; a bold statement. 

In the small number of years that I have slowly turned into a recipe book hoarder, I have come to think of recipe books as falling into two categories. There are those that are about the recipes and the recipes alone. The layout is simple and we jump straight to the point; tasty recipes that are easy to follow and which do not give much away about the author who created them (apart from the fact that they are an excellent chef and recipe book writer). Some of my current favourites that fall into this category are Jamie Oliver’s 7 Ways and Rukmini Iyer’s Roasting Tin series. The other category is, to me, a little more personal. The recipes are only a part of what these gorgeous hardbacks have to offer. These recipe books can have very little in common on the surface and yet I think they all reveal something about the author or about the complex relationships we can have with food. I often think they are a love letter to food, to the kitchen, and these are the kind of recipe books I can read like novels. For I really, really love stories about food. 

(Yes, okay, you can’t really categorise recipe books and there are plenty that are a combination of the two categories but that’s not as neat or easy to explain right now so we shall hastily move on.)

Midnight Chicken (& Other Recipes Worth Living For) by Ella Risbridger falls into the second category. It falls into this category with bells on and god, I bloody love everything about it. It’s a book full of memories and mouth-watering food. It’s a love letter to life and a reminder to keep going. It's unlike any other cookbook I own. It’s glorious. 

Recipe book review: Midnight Chicken

Recipe book review: Midnight Chicken

The cost of buying it would be worth it for the sausage pasta and the charred-leek lasagne recipes alone but you’ll get so much more than that. Amongst reminders to pour yourself another glass of wine or add more butter (of which there are plenty), there is a gentle love story, a fundamental belief that things will get better and a reminder of the ability of food to nourish us both physically and mentally. Plus some gorgeous, cosy illustrations. 

A spoiler if you want to read it without knowing – this book will break your heart. Revealed in the acknowledgements is the fact that The Tall Man, as he is affectionally referred to throughout, has died. The revelation that the cosy world of this book no longer exists is devastating, but also stands as a stark reminder to appreciate the everyday joys and always add a splash more wine to the glass. 

This recipe book is one of a kind, and I would urge you to delve into its pages when in need of a hug. That sausage pasta will cure the bleakest of days.

Recipe book review: Midnight Chicken