"It's not what you've got, it's what you do with IT", claims the slogan on the front cover of Start It (or, more properly and modishly, startit), which means, I suppose, that this is some kind of an IT cookery book. Many cooks would in fact say that what you've got is exactly and precisely the whole point, and that if what you've got isn't much cop in the first place anything that you do with IT to dress IT up and take IT out isn't likely to make an awful lot of difference.
So much for the cover. What about the contents? If it isn't clear from the title, this is a collection of starters, running through soups and bready things to dunk in it (rather a good idea), dips, salsas and pates, vegetables, fish and seafood and meat and poultry. There are some quite nice fried bits and pieces, such as empanadas, and some straightforward Italian antipasti; there are standards like hummus and taramosalata for which a few people may still not have recipes. Deborah Gray also includes a number for which it is difficult to imagine the processes leading to their creation: these in their way represent genuine challenges. What, for example, is one to make of Tomato and Heart of Palm Slices, a simple-sounding title that in fact conceals a white sandwich loaf sliced horizontally and layered with (a) floury tomato sauce, (b) spinach cooked in milk and flour and (c) chopped, canned hearts of palm in mayonnaise, the whole masked, galantine-fashion, with carrot mayonnaise? If you are a bold cook who relishes reckless innovation, this may well be worth exploring. --Robin Davidson [via]