An everlasting meal

My favourite cookbooks are those that can be read from cover to cover; that have no photos of the recipes, and certainly no photos of the author gazing soulfully at an artichoke. That have a warm, likeable, distinct voice. And that have recipes that I actually will cook.
I also enjoy the others, and am not immune to a glossy picture or the lure of restaurant kitchens and exotic cuisines. But my favourites a the first bunch, which is to say, Tamar Adler's "An everlasting meal" is so much up my street that it might as well say Mile-end avenue on the cover.

The tone of the book is very relaxed. What's with all this quest for perfection, she asks? How is it that people who never cook suddenly decide that they have  to make a lasagna to rival a Bolognese grandmother's? What happened to learning to walk before wanting to fly? Why don't you just put a pot of water to boil and leave the yard long ingredient lists and the must have equipment for later? You can make a lovely dinner just by boiling some vegetables and pasta and drizzling the whole thing with olive oil and dusting with parmesan. Forget about perfection and complication, just eat. Isn't boiled broccoli wonderful?

Each chapter deals with a main ingredient, like eggs, meat, beans or bread. The level of complication escalates somewhat, but not much. The triumph of the book, to me, is that it is full of very basic things that novices will find eye opening, but will also give experienced cooks gentle nudges into things they might have forgotten, and new projects to try out, and scores of things they didn´t know. And both will benefit from the tone, the spirit of the thing, which is about simple enjoyment of good things we can make ourselves without much fuss.

It can be a little precious at times, and there is, of course, a tad of unavoidable farmer's market smugness, but much less than in any of this epidemic of seasonal-local cookbooks. There are no lists of ingredients or equipment, the recipes are mostly from a basic Italian-French canon, and they are not quirky or new. There is none of this "my salsa verde" nonsense. There is just a description of how salsa verde will make everything around it so good that you simply must make a batch, right this instant, and before you know it you are hunting in the back of the fridge for that jar of capers.

I could go on and on. The section called how to stride ahead has revolutionized my kitchen these past two weeks. There are so many ideas tossed about dealing with leftovers that I feel I must read the whole thing again. There is much eloquent writing about bean broth that I must investigate. Et cetera.
Just have a look at the website, read the excerpts and see if we don't agree.

4 comentarios:

ChichaJo dijo...

Read the excerpt and I am, indeed, sold! Lovely writing...I am already wanting to get myself a copy :) Thanks for the heads up!

Anónimo dijo...

I, too, am sold. Amazing how one small excerpt can convey so much about the tone of a book.

kickpleat dijo...

I just put it on hold at the library & I can't wait to get it. I also favour cookbooks with no photographs and it's nice to see I'm not alone.

Engineers Love Cooking dijo...

Hola, me encanta tu blog y tratar de conseguir su libro. De todos modos por favor visite mi blog en http://cooking-engineer.blogspot.com/ de mis platos locales. Gracias.