Charlotte Pike demonstrates a cool authority and a hungry sense of adventure in a pair of vital new books.

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Charlotte Pike is a magician.
Pore over her two handsome books, Fermented, and Smoked, and you quickly realise that in amongst the straight-ahead advice and the culinary smarts, that there is another quest going on: the search for the ineffable, for the mercurial, for the magic. The magic of fermentation. The magic of smoke.
For what else happens, when we ferment or smoke foods, other than a transformation. We create things that are inimical to the nature of foods: smoke preserves a food destined to decay; fermentation boosts the beneficial aspects of foods so our gut can get the goodness it needs.
Ms Pike is alive to this magic, and manages to weave it into the extremely practical aspects of her two books. To put it quite simply: she makes magic seem easy, makes it seem commonplace, makes it seem like the logical result of making some chilli, garlic and sesame tempeh wraps, or smoked bacon jam with maple and whiskey. Her way with magic is very English, at home with Merlin and Harry Potter, Mary Poppins and Jane Grigson. She does the magic, and she makes it seem easy.

Fermented and Smoked are published by Kyle Books