This is a very different kind of cookbook which springs from a genuinely fresh approach. Roughly the first half of the book has no words, just pictures. No recipes? No, they come later. First, each plate of food is simply photographed and paired with an evocative contemporary photograph that speaks to it – maybe in shape, colour, mood or texture. It inspires playfulness and an exercise of the imagination. Some of the connections are immediate; a pastel pink rotary telephone echoes the ice-cream parlour tones of raspberry gelato, a scatter of autumn-brown leaves evoke a simple plate of nubbly lentils. Others need you to peer harder, think more, play with the ideas and maybe some will remain a mystery. The concept builds in extra layers to the cookbook experience, creating a more emotional link with the reader, while conveying a consistent message of the beauty, simplicity and innate stylishness of River Café’s Italian food. The subtitle ‘Recipes for kids of all ages’ refers, I think, to encouraging a sense of whimsy and wonder rather than framing it as a cookbook for children. For sure, don’t expect cupcakes, ice- cream sundaes or smiley-faced plates of food on these bold, bright pages. Beginner cooks are rewarded with 50 uncomplicated recipes for classics such as pizza margherita, spaghetti alle vongole, roasted red and yellow peppers and spatchcocked chicken in milk. Just giving a list of some of the recipes doesn’t quite sum up the vision, breadth and scope of the book, but for me it’s a contender more for the coffee table than the kitchen bench. TRACY WHITMEY