I borrowed the book Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast from the local library.
I was looking forward to reading this book. I love Jamie Oliver. His books are so helpful for beginners and I love watching his tv shows and internet videos. I’ve learned so much from him.
But unfortunately this book bored me, which pains me to admit, because I’m such a fan. I did read it all the way through, but it was a quick read. I just flipped pages for a couple of hours, and when I was finished, I promptly put it on the shelf by my front door, waiting to be returned to the library.
So, what’s wrong, exactly? Let’s start with the recipes.
Recipes Too Complicated
The book includes 50 complete meals: each meal includes 3 or more recipes on one page. The concept sounds great in theory, until you actually start to read them.
Like prior Jamie Oliver books, his recipes are written in paragraph style, but with 3+ dishes on one page, it’s very difficult to read & cook and then try to find your place again on the page. You’re switching from one dish to another and back and there’s just too much going on at once.
I realize Jamie wants to get people back in the kitchen, cooking homemade meals. He strives to give the reader as much information as possible to succeed, but cookbook recipes aren’t meant to read like a novel with paragraph after paragraph of detailed text. I wish he wrote the book using simple steps with bullet points.
Not So Easy Ingredients
Besides the complicated format, a lot of the ingredients are not items that the average home cook has in their pantry or even has access to at their local grocery. If you’re gonna include something like halloumi, you need to also include some sort of food product definition so people know what the heck they’re cooking!
Unnecessary Mandatory Kitchen Gear
And it’s not just ingredients that bugged me, he actually has a section in the beginning introduction titled “You Need this Equipment” – naming 2 columns of absolute “must-have” kitchen gear that he priced out at $550 – a hefty chunk of change for someone that is just starting out in the kitchen.
Yes, I have most of the recommended tools, but it’s gear I accumulated over time, not in a few days. It’s disappointing because Jamie Oliver has always been a minimalist (naked) chef, informing us that we don’t need no stinkin’ ice cream scoop or electric kettle. But now he is pushing a page of mandatory tools, but only because they’ll help you stick to the book’s promise that you can cook these meals in 30 minutes or less. That’s a silly reason to buy a garlic press, 4 cutting boards, a 3-level steamer, or an expensive food processor with extra blades and discs.
And to boot, it looks like the speed of the recipes has been greatly exaggerated anyway. It’s been reported that some recipes take upwards of 90 minutes instead of 30, as promised in the book, while others complain that it’s too stressful to try to keep up the 30 minute time crunch. If cooking is hurried and frantic, then it’s not fun; I don’t think that is the message that Jamie is trying to get across to people, is it?
Free Range and Cage Free Are NOT What They Seem
I’m also dismayed that he’s still recommending animal products labeled with out-dated “cage free” and “free range” misnomers. People are so easily confused by all the misleading terminology. I wish for once someone of his fame and influence would get it right!
Videos Are Better
Now, on a more positive note, check out the corresponding “30 Minute Meals” videos online instead. You can find a bunch on YouTube.
I think newbie home cooks would learn so much more with visual instruction, but if a book is needed, I highly recommend one his previous books:
- Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook
- Jamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals
I know a lot of time and effort went into the book and Jamie has made it his lifework to get people cooking at home; maybe this book will work for some people. It just doesn’t work for me.
I love reading cookbooks, like some people love reading novels! I am inspired by recipes, and enjoy learning ideas from cookbooks, which means I’d rather put my own spin on a recipe than follow it exactly. Please keep in mind that my opinions might be completely different from the other home cooks.