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How we all fell for Simon Hopkinson’s lovely tale of roast chicken

Simon Hopkinson’s much-loved book of French dishes is about cooking – and many other stories

If you’re going to do something that feels utterly filthy and wrong, it’s always good to believe you’re only following instructions. This is what I mutter to myself as I manipulate half a pat of room-temperature butter into a creamy overcoat for a raw chicken. I am only caking on the dairy fats because a cookbook has told me I must. I squeeze over the juice of a lemon, season liberally with salt and pepper, bang it into a hot oven and wait.

Cookbook titles tend towards the functional. It’s the food of this, or the book of that. And then there’s the best cookbook title of all time: Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson, with Lindsey Bareham. The second half of that sentence is perfect, for all recipes are indeed a story. The ingredients are the beginning. The method is the middle. We all know the ending. The best of those stories promise a better life. And then there is roast chicken, one of those tales that people like me love being told time and again.

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