Not blowing my own trumpet, but in our house I’m the principal cook. Not always thus, but as far back as a teenager in my parental home I discovered cooking’s pleasures. Once a week, homework permitting, I would present my parents with the magic of my newly discovered creativity. Magic being relative as my mother believed that all kitchen activity was subject to war-time rationing.

I introduced Mediterranean salads into a mince and potato household, Shepherd’s Pie without leftovers and desserts that contained gelatine leaf rather than cornflower and jam.

The success of this new found interest, blurred conveniently by the mists of time coupled with my parent’s diplomacy, allowed me to believe that here was a talent little known in the lower sixth.

Dowdy Penguin paperbacks started to challenge the orthodoxy of Mrs Beeton – she was always located next to the baking powder in the scullery. Kitchens didn’t have book shelves then.

Enter Elizabeth David and Madhur Jaffrey, a tousle-haired Delia, Floyd on Fish, Jane Grigson, and Ken Hom’s Chinese cooking. Ken, hirsute then as evidenced by the cover illustration, although it was the only photographic assistance as the rest of the book had the bounties of the East illustrated in pen and ink. The result of this collection was a flurry of world cooking in a tiny corner of West London. My mother, exercising great patience, consumed everything I prepared. This was in strict contrast to my fathers view who vehemently refused all “foreign rubbish” as strongly as he rebuffed tea bags and shop bought cakes.

This was a confusing blow and contributed to many issues that slowed my culinary progress.

Most cookbooks that captured my interest then were full of “foreign rubbish” and it was years before I realised my father rose each morning to be provided  with bacon from Denmark, tomatoes from Holland, orange juice from Israel, tea from India and coffee from South America; but his position on “Johnny Foreigner” remained un-assailed.

Nevertheless cooking activities remained a passion. I don’t do golf or jogging, but I realised how cooking can enforce relaxation by shutting down other preoccupations.The telephone cannot be answered, concentration cannot stray and commercial matters are consigned to a parallel universe.

However I have storage problems. Our kitchen presently has a 2 metre shelf, groaning under the weight of over 100 cook-books. Recently whilst researching Italian cuisine, I realised I had been scouring the titles for minutes on end. I felt a cull was in order. My thoughts drifted to Marilyn Monroe – whilst being chatted up by a potential paramour she replied “I can never remember a new telephone number without forgetting an old one.”

I undertook the job scientifically, out went the fascinating books on Polish perogi and Lapland elk-smoking. Anything with titles from my school days like “Best of Casserole Cooking” and “European Cooking, the Microwave Way” were consigned to a holding area before a suitable charity shop beckoned. After which, the shelf groaned a little less. River Café and Marcella Hazen retained pride of place in the Italian section, Keith Floyd joined Anthony Bourdain in the ‘lets get wasted and do-it’ section whilst the history of Thai cooking and Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall’s  bulky volumes acted as impromptu bookends.

On returning from London last week I had time to divert to Brundall for a book launch. Yes, a cook-book launch, by that hardy annual of Norfolk cooking – Richard Hughes in his restaurant, The Lavender House. Now I don’t do reviews, the EDP has far more erudite folk employed in that area, but I was tempted. The restaurant was full with what appeared to be genuine ordinary folk. No Beckhams, no actors no Rolling Stones just a loyal bunch who over the years have flocked to savour Richard’s no-nonsense cuisine. Richard greeted me in his no-nonsense way and showed me around his no-nonsense kitchen. I’ve sat in Richards’s restaurant many times. The ambience is also no-nonsense. If Delia’s restaurant falls between a swanky London eatery and Las Vegas, then The Lavender House has echoes of a murder mystery weekend coupled with a set from an amateur dramatic play. It, like it’s chef, is disarmingly understated. Dining there one night with my wife, she commented that her dish did not have the chef’s ego bouncing all over the plate. We were not subject to news of cursing or branding, none of the ‘look-no-hands’ school of catering, no tasteless shoots adorning our dish like a model railway set, or watching a front of house transporting the complex stack of food toppling like a condemned tower block in East London.

It is here that some of the finest food in East Anglia is made with love, honesty and inordinate experience. Too wordy I suppose for a book title, he chose Step by Step instead. Typical.

That night his no-nonsense publication found its way onto my shelf where his approach has now pulled the rug on a few other celebrity editions.

The cull begins afresh.