Having my e-mail address on The Curry House Web site means that I get more than my fair share of the dreaded "spam" (why do they think I need Viagra anyway?). Most of this unsolicted mail is worthless but, once in a while, a real gem appears in my mail box. A short while ago I got a very nice message from the publishers Kyle Cathie asking if they could send me a new book of theirs called Raising the Heat. Now this is more like it I thought. "Of course" I said. What self-respecting Chile-Head could refuse?
Paul Gayler has travelled widely and his eclectic style shows it. He explains in the introduction how he likes to combine, for instance, a Cajun cooking technique with Asian spices to create a brand new fish dish. If you are sceptical about this sort of "fusion food" then join the club but after reading this book I am more convinced that, in the right hands, it can be done successfully. Chef Paul is also wary of the sort of mess that can result in an unhappy combination of ingredients but he clearly has the experience and feel for spices to produce some stunning new recipes.
The recipes are clearly written which is what you would expect from an author who has already won prestigious awards for his other cookery books. There are plenty of extra cooking tips and ideas for attractive (but not fussy) presentation if you are out to impress your guests. Gus Filgateís photography is sumptuous and, even if you never made any of the recipes, you could look at the book for hours.
When you write your letter to Father Christmas I suggest you ask him nicely to put Raising the Heat in your stocking. The book would make an excellent present for anyone interested in spicy food.
Copyright David W Smith, 2000