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Richard Glover: Simmering with discontent

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In the wake of Margaret Fulton's death, could the authors of modern cookbooks take a good hard look at themselves? With Fulton, the recipe was all on the one page.

With Fulton, you could easily buy all the ingredients. With Fulton, the dish turned out as described.

These things, much of the time, are no longer true.

Margaret Fulton in her kitchen in 2012.Credit:Edwina Pickles

In the contemporary recipe book, every dish has a mandatory 17 ingredients, many of them in such microscopic quantities that it's impossible to believe they have any impact on the final dish.

For example, that chilling phrase: "Step 7. Stir in the teaspoon of yak's milk".

In the streets of Mosman or Woollahra, on a still day, you can often hear the cry go up from a hundred cooks: "Oh, where, oh where, can I source a teaspoon of yak's milk at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon?"

Of course, the modern cookbook author is there to help, and, at some point, in either glossary or preface, will have made the airy observation: "Yak's milk should be available from any good Nepalese grocer in your area."

Yes, but what if I live in an area with only bad Nepalese grocers? What if all the yaks are out on strike? What if a sudden heatwave has caused all the yaks' milk to curdle?

Again, the modern........

© The Age