Those of you who have read a Rick Stein cookbook or watched him set forth on one of his TV adventures know that his heart is never very far from the sea.
You will also know that his presentations on paper or pixels are about much more than just the recipes.
Certainly he has travelled far inland to write about places like Spain and India, but as he now shares his time between Cornwall and Sydney you know the whiff of saltwater is never far from his nostrils.
His latest book (Number 18 or so) takes him down some of the world’s oldest inhabited coastlines as he tracks down recipes from Italy through Croatia, Albania, Greece and Turkey.
‘From Venice to Istanbul’ is a mouthwatering exploration of one of the prettier journeys on our planet.
The book is published to accompany the television series on BBC2.
It contains over 100 recipes in its 300 pages. Each has Rick’s fascinating background notes and a mouthwatering full-page photo to help you prepare your dishes.
This part of the world is not noted for its fine dining and extravagant techniques, but even so Rick has taken pains to simplify recipes as much as he can. He acknowledges the generosity of the people in the restaurants and homes he visited, and says he sometimes feels a little arrogant playing with the family heirlooms they pass on, but he knows the audience he is writing for.
He concentrates on fresh produce and the authenticity of preparation. With the right ingredients almost any amateur cook could successfully plate these up.
Perhaps fish is not your favourite? How about pork knuckle? Goat? Veal and lamb in a variety of ways? Simple vegetarian plates? Pasta?
But it is so much more than the recipes. At two pages per recipes it leaves 100 pages, which Rick fills with literary references, history, pictures and stories of his adventures and discoveries, the places and the people who are the colourful essence of these shores.
Even if you never cooked in your life, this is a beautiful guidebook to the Eastern Mediterranean.
What’s next for Rick? He is thinking about a project called ‘Weekends away’. With London as a base, where could you go, what could you see and taste in a couple of days? St Petersburg? Prague? Venice? Maybe even New York? That will be worth watching out for.