Jamie Oliver wrote his latest cookbook, Jamie's Ministry of Food, with the tag line "Anyone can learn to cook in 24 hours" because in true Jamie food-revolutionary style, he wants to inspire people who have no interest in cooking "to have a go".
One Man Food Mission
But the recipes in Jamie's Ministry of Food are of equal value to everyday accomplished cooks looking for inspiration, and who enjoy Jamie's hip, relaxed style and his infectious enthusiasm for changing the world one big food project at a time.
The Ministry of Food follows on from his other food missions in recent years, that of taking on the nation's school tuck shops, in which he set out to show that schools in the UK could serve up cheap healthy food that children would eat; and also his promotion of organic, homegrown and locally grown fruit and vegetables, along with free-range chicken and pork.
The Original Ministry of Food
In the intro to his book, Jamie says that during and after World War I, terrible food shortages meant many people were malnourished.
So when World War II broke out, "the government knew they'd have to do something pretty clever to stop this happening again, and what they did was set up a Ministry of Food". It was designed to make sure there was enough food to go around and to educate the public about food and proper nutrition.
Modern day bad health and obesity
"It's such a shame it takes a bloody world war to focus people's attention on health, but we have a modern-day war on our hands now and it's over the epidemic of bad health and the rise of obesity," writes Jamie.
The New Ministry of Food
So Jamie has set up his own Ministry of Food, in the form of 359 pages of recipes and information. He urges his readers to get personally involved by passing it on, "by learning just one recipe from each chapter of this book". Master the recipes and then teach them to two, preferably four people, he says.
Whatever the recipe for making his Ministry of Food a success, sales of this recipe book reached £11.5m last year, making him officially Britain's bestselling author.
Recipes for the Reluctant
And from what I gather, he even goes home after work and cooks a gorgeous meal for his Mrs. As I said dreamily to my other half the other day, "Imagine being married to Jamie Oliver..." He agreed it would be a good thing in principle.
On a more practical level, I am thinking I should buy a copy of this book for us to share, and for our teenage son who loves cooking. This is a recipe book which is subtly and tastefully bloke-friendly - ideal for those households where the males are a little kitchen shy.
Suited to organic ingredients
Jamie's Ministry of Food includes chapters on twenty minute meals, quick pasta, tasty stir-fries, easy curries, homely mince, comforting stews, family roasts, delish veg, kick-start breakfasts and sweet things, among others, with an emphasis on fresh, quality ingredients, and with most recipes being easily converted to organic.
Jamie is a champion of organics and encourages the use of organic or free-range chicken and pork.
But it's his efforts to tidy up the eating habits of the UK - and the flow on influence that has for other western nations which have taken the slippery slide down the slope of bad food, that earns this book a big kiss. XX
In The People's Chef: Jamie Oliver, the Guardian.co.uk tells the story of Jamie's rise from "kindling an interest in cooking" to later "tethering the idea of the food we eat to society at large."