I make Cauliflower Cheese quite a lot.
Well, not every day but at least once a month. I serve it with warm crusty bread and a dressed green salad.
There are, of course, traditional ways to make cauliflower cheese. Par-boiled cauliflower, a white sauce to which you’ve added grated cheddar cheese, a cheese topping, all baked in the oven. That was how my mother did it, and it’s the way many people like it. I’ll eat it that way but it’s a little… bland, and makes a better side dish than it does a main course.
For a time I followed Saint Delia
: make the sauce from Parmesan and Gruyere and creme fraiche (much easier than making a white sauce); plus some herbs and spices: nutmeg, bay leaf and cayenne pepper; and some chopped spring onions in the Parmesan topping; grilled (broiled) rather than baked… Less bland, especially if you add roast tomatoes in with the cauliflower, but still… doesn’t hit all my buttons.
And then I discovered the ultimate cauliflower cheese (so far, anyway) aka Cheesy Cauliflower and Bacon
. I leave the bacon out if cooking for vegetarians.
Par-boiled cauliflower (and potatoes if you want to bulk it out), onion fried until it’s soft and caramelised plus lardons fried until they’re crisp (I cut any big chunks of fat off — can’t abide chunks of uncooked bacon fat) layered with cheese (I use a strong grated cheddar and a very little blue cheese) and cream (I use creme fraiche rather than double cream — less risk of it splitting). All baked. Lovely. (and very rich — you might want to use half-fat creme fraiche if fat levels matter to you).
What, I hear the Internet asking, has this got to do with reviews.
Well, some people will never try cauliflower cheese, perhaps due to an unfortunate encounter with over-cooked cauliflower in their youth.
Some people prefer the traditional version — because that’s how it’s meant to be.
Some people will venture a little further afield (Delia can’t be wrong, surely) but decide it isn’t for them — they don’t like the spices or spring onion or whole dish. Taste is a very personal thing.
Some people will enthusiastically embrace onions and/or bacon and/or blue cheese. They’ll identify the elements they do like and don’t like; and decide whether, overall, the recipe is good or bad. Perhaps they’ll tell their friends to try it. Perhaps they’ll tell their friends to avoid it. But at least they’ve tried and considered it.
And so, to reviews of “A Matter of Oaths”.
I read all the reviews of my book that I find (or are signposted to me). I’m old (and ornery) enough not to fret about reviews -- different people like different things and not everybody is wrong.. Every sale is a bonus (my cats thank you) and every review is the honest opinion of the person who read the book. (I don’t respond — that way lies madness).
There will be many people who never find their way to it (which is sad, but inevitable — watch this space if I do achieve world domination…)
There will be people who balk at the first hurdles (POC, gay, women, old) Some is predictable (alas, s*d p*pp*s). They will find books more to their liking elsewhere (not where I look for books, perhaps) and the reviews they write will help others of their mind steer clear. I haven’t yet encountered s*d *pp*s for whom the skies are falling in, but perhaps HennyPenny and I are not frequenting the same corner of the Internet. Or I’m insignificantly important and fly under the radar.
There will be people who find the writing style off-putting (most common complaint to date: everything in the world building isn’t spelled out). Yes — that was deliberate, and the kind of book I like to read. Again, they will find stuff to their liking elsewhere, and others who read them won’t waste their money on my book if they don’t like that approach.
There will be people who prefer more hard science in their stories. No, this is not their book.
And there will be people who ‘get’ the book — enjoy it, understand what it was about. There might be things they would like to have been done differently, but they explain what and why. Those are the reviews I treasure — whatever rating they assign.