Moro: The Cookbook – Sam & Sam Clark

Moro: The Cookbook Sam & Sam Clark

Published by Ebury Press, 2003 (Paperback), 2001 (Hardback)
Art director and design by Caz Hildebrand
Photographs by Pia Tryde
Front cover image by Popperfoto

Moro The Cookbook is a book from a restaurant that has a reputation for passion and authenticity, the owners of the restaurant and the writers of the book, Sam and Sam Clark, travel extensively in Spain, North Africa and the Mediterranean to research recipes. The recipes in the book have been designed for the home chef but are “true to the origins of the dish”. The book establishes an idea of authenticity through several elements: through the use of historical stock photography suggesting travel, the discovery of unchanged places and history; through the use of colour food photography accessorised with hand-made and old-fashioned crockery and utensils that are the opposite of minimal Modernism; through the use of tinted paper, fleurons and other decorative elements to suggest history, a book out of time; and through the choice of typeface - Clarendon, which although readable has a quirkiness, particularly when used at larger sizes and with loose letterspacing, feels out of time, a further distancing from the Modern world.

Front cover
The cover shows a photograph of a street seller carrying, over both arms, two baskets of what looks like fish printed on white paper that is laminated. The photograph is hand-tinted black and white and, judging by the man’s outfit, possibly dates from the 1940s: he is wearing a pinstripe suit with a wide collar, voluminous trousers and is sporting a pencil moustache and a trilby. The outfit is given a Spanish flavour by the addition of espadrilles and a wide cummerbund. The background is bleached out so that all that remains is a hint of flagstones and a very vague suggestion of a wall. There is very little colour in the photograph, just a little yellow in the trilby, a little pink in the man’s skin and suit and a hint of pale blue on the fish. The photograph has the appearance of a found image, possibly sourced in a flea market or found hanging in a local restaurant but is actually a stock image from a photo library, chosen to suggest eccentric authenticity and local charm.

The title of the book is written is hand-written script, in orange, at the top of the page. This book is a cook book from the Moro restaurant in Exmouth Market, London and the title uses the logo that appears on the frontage of the restaurant. The logo, with its flowing characters (the tail of the R is particularly exuberant) suggests Arabic script. The subtitle is printed beneath the logo, also in orange, but printed in uppercase Helvetica light. A strapline, in orange Clarendon appears at the foot of the cover, a quotation from food wiriter Nigel Slater: “A rare and very special cookbook”. The cover elements work together to suggest an exotic and timeless authenticity that is anchored in the present day by the use of Helvetica light. The authors’ names do not appear on thee cover of the book.

Inside Pages
The book is 19 cm by 25 cm and is printed on white uncoated paper in full colour. Each page of the book has been printed with a very subtle greenish-grey that is only evident when occasional text, rules between sections and some decorative elements are reversed out of the grey revealing the white of the paper. This is a very subtle effect which, combined with the darker grey-green text used throughout the book, creates a sense of history, of a book transformed by age. Clarendon, in one weight only, but in several sizes, is used throughout the book; interestingly, Helvetica light only appears on the cover. The layout is based on a one-column grid with symmetrical facing pages and body text is justified. Recipe titles are centred and set in title-case Clarendon, at a larger point size than the body text. Where a title is given in Spanish a translation appears below in uppercase Clarendon set at a slightly larger size than the body text. Fleurons and other decorative elements appear, somewhat at random, behind some of the recipe titles reversed out of the grey; in addition, what appear to be Arabic translations are sometimes placed behind the titles - these appear to be mainly decorative as the same script appears behind different recipes. Most of the text is printed in the aforementioned dark grey-green apart from the lists of ingredients which are printed in black and indented from the main body of text. Running footers are centred, with the pagination, in a deep margin at the foot of the page.

The book is divided into sections: these are generally announced with a black and white photograph showing an historic scene from the countries from which the recipes are taken: a man in Berber dress tending a bread oven, the Spanish fish-seller from the front cover and an extended Turkish family enjoying a feast. These photographs all help create an atmosphere of tradition: this is authentic food rooted in the past.

Other photographs concentrate on the food: full bleed, richly-saturated colour photographs show close-ups of the food in all its rough-edged beauty, this atmosphere of informal authenticity is amplified by the use of accessories such as black cast-iron pans, richly-coloured hand-painted plates and rough wooden chopping boards. Occasional, smaller photographs of food items such as Pine nuts, Morcilla and Saffron interrupt the text.




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