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Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur: player ratings to the theme of cookbooks

Spurs cooked up a tasty win over Palace at Selhurst Park on Wednesday.

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Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Cooking is one of those essential skills that will serve you for the rest of your life. Well, okay, in today’s fast-paced everything-around-the-corner (or available online) world “essential” is maybe too strong. But learning to cook not only puts you in closer connection to the food that you eat, but also helps you to cook healthier and eat better.

I don’t know if any of the Tottenham Hotspur players can cook. (But I suspect some can, and am curious who you think are the gastronomes in the squad... put your guesses in the comments.) But they do know how to dish up a good win, as they showed Wednesday night in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

The match was Spurs’ eighth league win in a row and kept the pressure on Chelsea who are still just four points ahead of them in the table.

Here are the player ratings for Spurs’ win over Crystal Palace, to the theme of cookbooks.

Not everyone will agree, but this is my cooking bible. I had a copy of this book thrust into my hands when I was young and recently married, and while I already had a tenuous grasp of the fundamentals of cookery by then, Bittman’s eponymous tome raised my cooking game to a new level. Organized by category and easily searchable by individual ingredient, Bittman’s recipes are approachable, explained easily and succinctly, and almost always delicious. There are sections (with pictures) on technique, and there’s an app version as well if you like your recipes digital. When I’m cooking for my family on a random weeknight, it’s the first book I reach for.

Jan Vertonghen: On a night where Spurs looked at times a little derpy and possibly subject to counterattacks with pace, Jan was Spurs’ best defender, positioning himself well and shutting down Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha. He was wonderful.

Nope, nobody else: Hmm, no, I can’t think of anyone else who had a five star performance and might also be linked with a move to Barcelona. Thinking... mmm... nope, not coming to me.

Like How to Cook Everything above it and Joy of Cooking below it, Kenji Alt-Lopez’s book falls under the category of all-purpose workhorses. But what Kenji brings to the table here, besides a wide variety of ethnic recipes somewhat absent from other workhorse cookbooks, is clear instructional techniques, and scientific explanations of WHY various things happen when you cook. Kenji brings a scientific approach to cookery that makes it incredibly informative. I’ve spent evenings just reading The Food Lab chapter by chapter, which isn’t something I usually do with cookbooks, and it has improved my proficiency in the kitchen by a long shot.

Eric Dier: Cromulent as a central defender, he was fantastic when pushed up into midfield. I dunno, maybe we should actually play him there ALL the time, yeah?

Harry Kane: Didn’t score, but was his usual industrious self against a Big Sam side set up to frustrate.

Moussa Sissoko (time wasting): Let’s be honest, Sissoko’s time-wasting skills were fantastic late in the match, as he probably killed about three minutes of extra time on his own. It’s everything else that wasn’t very good.

The Joy of Cooking has been in continuous publication for 85 years. Let that sink in a second. No cookbook lasts that long, even after multiple revisions and updates, unless there’s something there. And there’s a lot there. The recipes can be a little dated, and it’s not my first choice when picking out a family meal plan. But the scope of the book is impressive, and it deserves a place on this list for the sheer audacity of what it has undertaken, and accomplished. It’s the most popular cookbook in America, after all.

Ben Davies: Back in the lineup after being rested against Chelsea in the cup final, Davies looked solid heading up and down the left flank. I have no complaints - he was fine.

Toby Alderweireld: Toby was all right and helped mitigate Christian Benteke all night, but I can’t help but feel just a little underwhelmed by his performance. It was his second “off match” in a row, and I wonder if he’s beginning to tire.

Let’s be clear: this is an amazing book. Julia Child’s masterpiece of French cookery is no doubt a timeless tome, and it should be commended. If you really do want to prepare a classic 1950s French dish, this is the book you want. But here’s the thing: I’ve owned this cookbook for more than 15 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever prepared more than five recipes, and none at all in the past decade. Because let’s be honest, even the simplest of preparations are excruciatingly complicated and long, and have a high degree of “f*ckupitude.” Plus, while Julia’s beef bourguignon is no doubt delicious, most of us have about an hour at most to get dinner on the table in the evenings. As a collector’s item and gastronomical touchstone, it’s unparalleled. If you’re preparing an exquisite dinner party, this is the Rosetta stone. But you’re not reaching for this cookbook at 5:15 pm on a Tuesday night.

Dele Alli: After his heroics in the Chelsea match, I expected a little more from Dele, but he was kept mostly quiet in this match. Didn’t help that he was constantly being fouled, though.

Hugo Lloris: Not much for Hugo to do, again. Was there to stop one Benteke effort early on, but mostly was just an observer. Which is fine.

Sandra Lee describes her approach to cooking as using “70% pre-prepared ingredients, 30% fresh ingredients.” I reject the premise. The recipes in this guide come complete with brand names of the ingredients, ensuring that while the food won’t be good, you’ll at least eat this unhealthy garbage knowing that you’ve contributed to Ms. Lee’s retirement plan. This cookbook needs to fall into a deep hole, at the bottom of which rests a cistern full of sewage infested with sharks with friggin’ laser beams on their heads.

Kyle Walker: Yikes. Had an atrocious first half that was “highlighted” by him attempting to pass the ball to a teammate and ended up nearly putting the ball out for a corner. Improved a lot in the second half, but this this was a match to forget for Kyle.

Son Heung-Min: Sonny only had a half to prove himself, but looked more like the Son who covered during Kane’s first injury and not the Son who has been on a purple patch the last few weeks. Credit some of that to Palace’s defense, but he wasn’t great on Wednesday.

The midcentury, Julia Child aside, was not a good time for gastronomes in America. Home cooks were encouraged to use prepackaged and canned ingredients (which were much worse back then than today), and there was a propensity to combine anything with gelatin and stick it in a mold. It was the darkest of timelines, when not only were you quite possibly going to die in a nuclear explosion, but if you survived all that was left to eat were boxes of cake mix and cans of Manwich. Rather than choose just one book, I refer you instead to the excellent (in the worst possible way) blog Yuckylicious, which documents the worst best worst of 1950s recipes.

Mousa Dembele: I never thought I’d see the day when Moose would have a 2-star game, but here we are. He made some dumb fouls, had a few terrible calls go against him, and picked up a knock. I’m sure he’s frustrated, but yanking him at halftime was the right call.

Victor Wanyama: The only player on the pitch who might have had a worse match than Mousa. I’m not sure what was going on with Vic, but he probably should’ve been sent off in the first half. His touch betrayed him, and he was a bull in midfield, but not in a good way. He’ll need to fix that before Sunday’s NLD.

Moussa Sissoko (everything else): I still can’t believe we paid £30m for this guy.

All together now: PHRASING.

Christian Eriksen: Terrible player. No skill, doesn’t score, can’t beat the first man off of corners. I also hear he hates sunshine, pretty women, tapas, and Catalonian independence. Can’t speak Spanish, either. Nothing to see here, totally not worth your time. Say, have you seen that Alexis bloke?

Kieran Trippier