Gourmet Food for a Fiver
By Jason Atherton
The one thing I dislike about this book is its title. It places it too firmly in Britain - because, obviously, the author, Jason Atherton, culinary director of 22 Ships in Wan Chai (and chef of the Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social in London) is not referring to HK$5 (which wouldn't get you very far, even if you were to buy the items marked down by food vendors at the end of the day). And it also dates it, because 10 years from now it will probably be pretty difficult to make a two-course meal of "gourmet food" for £5 (currently equivalent to HK$60) per person, which is the book's premise.
What's more, the title short-changes the contents. It anchors the reader to today's money, but I can't imagine that 10 or even 20 years from now we'll be looking at the book and thinking, "How quaint; look at what people ate back then," which is what we might do with recipes that are far less interesting. In other words, the recipes probably won't be out of date. Also, the cuisine Atherton covers is international - not just British.
Anyone who's eaten at 22 Ships knows the food can't be pigeonholed - although it serves tapas, it's not rigidly Spanish. And the food in Gourmet Food for a Fiver is even more cosmopolitan. There are dishes for pan-fried fish with patatas bravas; grilled salmon steak with ginger chilli glaze and sticky rice; pork belly with minestrone and poached egg; braised lamb with imam bayildi and black olives; and spiced pineapple with coconut sorbet and candied ginger.