Top ten must-have cookery books With literally thousands of cookery books on the shelves at any one time, putting together a comprehensive list of publications any cook worth his salt simply can't be without in his kitchen can be a challenging business. Here are some classics that should feature somewhere in any foodie aficionado's collection

An Omelette And A Glass Of Wine, Elizabeth David, Lyons Press. The author was an inspiration to a generation of food writers, and way ahead of her time. A constant surprise is the occurrence of modern dishes in France 50 years ago

Gastronomique, Larousse, Hamlyn. The definitive epicurean encyclopaedia. A bit dated here and there - oeufs en gelée, anyone? - but still a fascinating read. There are new editions around, or pick up a second hand copy of this excellent addition to a foodie library

The Oxford Companion To Food, Alan Davidson, OUP. Now in its 20th year and annually updated, this has to be the ultimate food dictionary – and the perfect way to settle those pub quiz questions

Roast Chicken & Other Stories, Simon Hopkinson, Ebury. A charming walk through one man's home cookery; simple, delicious recipes for every day, punctuated with wonderful anecdotes

Mediterranean Food, Claudia Roden, BBC Books. A classic from one of the grande dames of cookery writing. It draws inspiration from seven countries, including Italy and France, and combines recipes with evocative descriptions of the cultures from which they emerged

Real Fast Food, Nigel Slater, Penguin
. A useful guide to packing flavour into your super-busy life. Perfect for the working individual, with no sacrifices of flavour to speed. As with all Nigel's stuff, equal pleasure is to be had from the reading as the eating

River Cottage Meat Book, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Hodder & Staughton. HFW's weighty affair is a must-have for any serious carnivore. Recipes for everything from roast rib of beef to a fiery Jamaican goat curry are foolproof, enjoyable to read and easy to prepare

Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain, Harper Collins. The quote on the cover reads “Elizabeth David meets Quentin Tarantino” which just about sums up this book perfectly. Real life in the kitchen from a witty, honest and just plain loveable writer

Complete Cookery Course, Delia Smith, BBC Books. Even after How To Cheat, it would be unfair not to include Delia's classic in this list. A firm friend in the kitchen, it's a great resource for home cooks

The New Joy Of Cooking, Irma Rombauer, Prentice Hall & IBD. First published in the 1930s, this is one of those cookbooks which can claim to have inspired a nation. While many recipes are aimed at Americans, there is much within the pages to inspire any serious food lover

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