Aleksandra Mir

How NOT to cook: Chef Caro has a moment of clarity

By Caro de Waal, September 2009

I have got a zillion shiny fat cookbooks filled with glossy pictures and lickable close-ups, but I don't use half of them.

Here's how to roast the perfect chicken, make the perfect gravy or bake the perfect cake... blah blah, same old same old.

What about a book on how NOT to cook?

Aleksandra Mir's anti-cookbook installation is an artwork that makes brilliant sense. She has collected 1000 tips from chefs and civilians alike on what not to do.

They're not all exactly kitchen savvy like, "never season a salad while holding a cigarette" and "do not choke the chicken having chopped hot peppers" but it's fun and quirky and it got me thinking.

So many books are filled with smiling celebrities and their sumptious recipes, but they are effortlessly conjured up with lightning-speed knife skills and years of training under scary Michelin-starred chefs.

What if I'm not Nigella or Gordon? Can I still make that fabulous looking dish all styled up with drizzles and drozzles of reduced this and couli-ed that? I do try, but it never looks like it does in the picture and there's seldom a tip of what to do if it flops.

What about a book that shows you how not to get those pesky little lumps when you're making a simple white sauce, or how not to turn red cabbage blue, like in Bridget Jones' Diary. It will go a beautiful powder blue if you don't add some acid like lemon juice or grated apple. Honestly.

Or the secret to the perfect souffle, in my humble opinion, double-bake the bugger, it works every time. Try my double-baked gruyere souffle with wholegrain mustard cream, it's a winner and a no-stress smarty-pants starter or light main course. Yum.

There's how not to crystalise your caramel or toffee apple your tongue by idiotically tasting the lava hot stuff – something we've all done once I think? And the mystical tale of how not to make kak scrambled eggs .

I think it's a glorious plan, and great for all levels of cooks from the water burner to the caramel maker.

Maybe I'll corner the market and make millions.