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An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace
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An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  3,380 ratings  ·  551 reviews
Reviving the inspiring message of M. F. K. Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf— written in 1942 during wartime shortages—An Everlasting Meal shows that cooking is the path to better eating.

Through the insightful essays in An Everlasting Meal, Tamar Adler issues a rallying cry to home cooks.

In chapters about boiling water, cooking eggs and beans, and
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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Scribner
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The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanKitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverFast Food Nation by Eric SchlosserIn Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Food-Related Non-Fiction
84th out of 672 books — 1,282 voters
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanFood Matters by Mark BittmanAn Everlasting Meal by Tamar AdlerLicking the Spoon by Candace WalshWhat Einstein Kept Under His Hat by Robert L. Wolke
Sweet Food Writing
3rd out of 32 books — 17 voters


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Community Reviews

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Chris
Mar 03, 2012 Chris rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: food
Adler's chapter titles (which are lovely) acknowledge her debt to MFK Fisher, and Fisher's style is clearly what Adler is shooting for. Unfortunately, she lacks Fisher's genius of finding the unexpectedly perfect word, and too often she misses and lands on twee, pretentious or just meaningless. There's nothing particularly solemn about cauliflower stalks; capers do not taste anything like pebbles; and I have never been bewildered by a breakfast of cold pasta, no matter how delicious.

I'm being un
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Irena Smith
This book changed my life. I'm not even kidding. I now make my own beans, and her dead simple (and incredible) parsley oil, and roast farmers market vegetables as soon as I get home, which fills the house with amazing aromas and the fridge with food for the week. Tamar Adler writes about parsley, and boiling water, and roasting vegetables with a grace and lyricism that elevates the act of cooking and eating to poetry. There are lines like this, for example, when she exhorts the reader to toast a ...more
Kelly Bragg
READ.THIS.BOOK. When I began reading An Everlasting Meal, I was struck by how beautifully Tamar Adler described food she cooks - not just the usual how does it smell, how does it taste - but with glowing descriptions of the texture, feel, and appearance. When she describes a meal, you are right there with her!

It wasn't far into the book that I decided that I simply MUST have a copy to call my very own. Not long after that, I realized that one of the reasons I loved this book so much is that it
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Steve
Interesting ideas about how to think about cooking, rather than recipes per se. The book is ridiculously and distractingly overwritten, though. Many of the sentences read like a bizarre parodies of contemporary food writing. The overly descriptive writing just doesn't jive with Adler's call for simple-yet-smart cooking. Helen Nearing's Simple Food for the Good Life or Tom Colicchio's supremely underrated Think Life a Chef both would have served as great templates/role models for this. Good food ...more
Nick Klagge
As I'm writing this, I'm making something from this book, a recipe that Elise and I (affectionately) refer to as "butt pesto." (You'll have to ask me.)

This is one of my favorite books about food I've ever read. It's patterned as a modern homage to MFK Fisher's book "How to Cook a Wolf." While I also enjoyed the MFKF book, TA's book has had much more of an actual impact on my life with food.

What I think makes this book so special is that it is not about food in isolation ("here are a bunch of th
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Kate
Aug 03, 2012 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: foodie
If I could go back in time for just a couple of days, one of the things I'd like to do is sit down with my grandmothers and let them teach me all of those little secrets they knew about getting a meal to turn out just right. Born in the 1880's, both grandmother's knew how to cook before there were such things as degrees on oven dials. They used real ingredients, very few came from a box. What I remember of them cooking from when I was a little girl, their hands moved instinctively. Just a taste ...more
sharon
In an age when every recipe seems to come with a list of ingredients as long as my arm, Tamar Adler's approach to food is disarmingly simple, refreshingly intuitive, and utterly sensible. I found her suggestions for what to do with the odds and ends of dishes particularly helpful. (I'll never stare at a giant bunch of parsley or a rind of Parmesan with bewilderment again!) The night I finished the book, I found myself confronted with rather bare cupboards and, armed with Adler's injunctions and ...more
Janet
I heartily recommend this book to anybody who used to love to prepare good and sustaining meals but who's lost inspiration in the wake of so many cooking shows, food blogs and Pinterest.

When I was growing up, my mom cooked every meal, every day, for years. While it was drudgery to her, the meals never reflected that. She grew up knowing true hunger and learned how to prepare food with economy, but not with parsimony. She used quality ingredients, fresh and in season, always prepared correctly -
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Ce Ce
Remove the word "foodie". Forget the gadgets. Pull any old pot out. Fill it with water. Light a fire. Rummage around. Create. Let your senses take over. Taste, taste and taste once more. Food is sustenance. Grace. And a gift...body and soul...to ourselves and our friends.

Waste not. Want not. Influenced by the first chapters, while I was making one meal I piled the vegetable scraps and skins I would generally toss into the compost into a big pot and covered them with water and the bit of beer I
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Louise
I was first apprehensive about reading this book in ebook format because I thought it would be more of a cookbook. Luckily, it has more narrative and reads almost like a novel with handful of helpful recipes per chapter.

It was like this book was written especially for me. Other than in the recipes, the amount of things are pretty hand-wavy. The author also emphasizes wise use of all parts of vegetables and how to stretch one dish into several to cut down on preparation time. I especially liked t
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Laurie
This is not so much a cookbook as a book about cooking, a philosophy of cooking. Adler’s premise is that simple meals are better than production numbers; that great meals can be had from bits and bobs of old meals; that you should save every little vegetable scrap or peel. Her theories are sound; onion peels and broccoli stems make great stock and everything tastes better cooked in stock. Stale bread is good for any number of things, from croutons to thickening sauce. But while the word ‘economy ...more
Bmfoa
Nov 25, 2011 Bmfoa is currently reading it
I ordered this book in the mail. I cannot WAIT for it to arrive. Read a chapter on a plane...delish. Crazy to love food so much that you even love to read about it! :)
Okay, I'm now a couple of chapters in. I keep dog-earing the pages, but if I don't stop, I'm going to have to fold the whole book in half. Beautiful writing. I'm constantly cooking, in my mind!
Ariel Cummins
So I just put this book on hold because it showed up in Wowbrary as a new purchase at my library (does your library have Wowbrary? It's amazing! If your library does offer it and you don't subscribe, you should! Right now!). And I put off reading it because, well, books about how to eat gracefully sometimes just don't seem as exciting as YA books about the end of the world.

But! This book was a delight to read. Almost poetic in its language, it managed to avoid the pretentious-ness bug that lots
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Vivian
This book does for practical home cooking what Nina Planck's REAL FOOD does for the consumer by providing a delightful (and much needed) dose of common sense and assurance about the choices we make about what we eat and how we prepare it into a meal.

How can a book about food that has no pictures and very few recipes earn four stars from me? She had me from the very first chapter--YES, a dozen pages on boiling water!

Tamar is creative, frugal, daring, practical, sensible, skilled, and she assures
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Amelia
I really enjoyed this book, but had some issues with it which detracted from my reading experience.

First, is it a cookbook or an essay? I felt that it was primarily an essay-type book, and read it lying in bed at night, but there were many places where I wanted to jump up and try to cook things. I think if I'd read it in the kitchen, I might have had a hard time using it because it's not quite arranged as an instructional book. If I'd bought it as a printed, bound book I would probably stick it
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Sara
Jun 10, 2013 Sara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Non-foodies who are willing to learn
You're a reasonably sincere person who believes that, for the sake of the planet and maybe your health, you should start cooking with actual ingredients instead of boxes of MSG. And you've trolled the farmer's markets and maybe tried your local CSA, and you've been game about all the strange vegetables and new cuts of meat, but, man -- you're not a cook by nature. You're always looking for recipes that will help you to use all of this stuff, but it still feels like you're just trying to keep a b ...more
Janice
Humorless, pretentious, preachy, and nearly every chapter starts with "M.F.K. Fisher says..." Adler immediately states that Fisher is an influence, but in my opinion, she does not add anything new or unique to the dialogue about thoughtful, economical, and graceful cooking. Not being familiar with her any of previous work, her authoritarian tone (e.g., "Children must help shell peas.") was off-putting. I would much rather read Nigel Slater, Simon Hopkinson, Fergus Henderson, Melissa Clark, Mark ...more
Sarah
I've heard a number of people saying they love this book and I see the appeal. But it wasn't for me. The writing was too precious and prescriptive for my taste and, having a lot of experience with using up every last bit of food by necessity, I didn't learn a lot from the content. (I also am wary of her advice. She made a number of claims that suggest that we have very different tastes- for example, that broccoli stems are delicious if you cook them long enough. Broccoli stems are in fact delici ...more
Marya Dumont
This cookbook was inspirational not in the usual bookmark-to-later-try-a-recipe way, but in a soulful, lasting way. The author's simple yet clever descriptions and transparent adoration of good food warmed my heart and yes, changed how I think about cooking. Before moving house I finally cooked up that bag of beans and it became a warm soft mash beside a Fiorentina-style steak, then part of a breakfast fry-up with apple slices, then (best of all!) an improvised homemade bean with bacon soup. Las ...more
Kristy
I really enjoyed the chapters that focused on vegetables and pantry staples. She has some great ideas that I also incorporate in my kitchen, about finding intuitive ways to use up left overs and to utilize ingredients that would otherwise go to waste, like kitchen scraps, potato peels, parsley stems. Her laid back approach to cooking is refreshing and I love how she's not a food snob and enjoys cooking humble, simple, and sustaining meals in her kitchen. Gourmet food this isn't and that's just f ...more
Antigone
There's something so startling about the encounter with passion. A true, full-bodied passion that's been embraced and integrated into every aspect of life. Most days my choices extend only so far as hammer and nail, and I forget the force of joy. I forget the way bliss can trip into meaning, into vibrancy, into a stunningly pigmented existential composition. I forget. Tamar Adler reminds, in prose both crisp and seductive, that passion persists as an option; that there is a world beyond the fact ...more
Crystal
Okay, this book was so good that I read it very, very slowly, just to savor it. And then I picked it up and started reading it again.

Tamar Adler just GETS it. Her prose is beautiful, and her kitchen beliefs are so in line with my own. I got so many ideas from this book - I felt like I gained freedom in my kitchen just by reading it. Awesome, awesome, awesome.
Victoria Goddard
I really love this book. It makes me want to eat eggs and odds-and-ends and buy tons of olive oil and things in jars and make stock and have an open door for anyone coming to call, even if it means starting with stone soup.

(If I follow Tamar Adler's recommendations, there will always be something delicious in the pantry to add to the stone soup--and she makes suggestions for how to turn a shrivelled onion and some stale bread into a feast. All you really need is olive oil or butter, salt, and p
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Carrie
I have Thoughts about this book. It was good. It was sort of a contemplation on home cooking. Tamar Adler has cooked at various restaurants (including Chez Panisse), but this book is really focused on making food at home with a goal making home cooking seem doable - not with any tricks, just by saying, food doesn't have be complicated, here is how you make basic things. Here is what to do if things go wrong. But not in a textbook sort of way, in a "meditations on cooking" sort of way. There is e ...more
Trace
Even though I'm trying to be stingy with my 5 stars - I would give this book a 6-star rating if I could. In reviewing all of the books I've read in 2012 - I think this is my very favorite...

I found myself counting down the minutes during my day until it was ME time, and I could snuggle in with a cup of tea and a few pages of this poetic book. I was torn between not wanting to stop reading (its that good) and wanting to stop and slow down in order to really savor this first-reading and make it la
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Danielle McClellan
It took me a long time to get around to this book, partially because of my mild distrust of the rave reviews it received from others. MFK Fisher is one of my favorite food authors and I just could not imagine that anyone could truly base their own book off of her brilliant How to Cook a Wolf and not fall short. Well, Adler's book doesn't; it is beautifully written and, more importantly, it captures MFK Fisher's tone and hard-to-imitate confidence with its own author's equally quirky, resolute pe ...more
Christy
Dear An Everlasting Meal,

How to start? Surely you have never received a letter such as this, nor have I written one. But I feel that I must write. AEM, you are, for me, a summer love. I first heard about you in the spring. I mostly forgot about you, but every once in awhile, I’d remember and think about how I needed to arrange an encounter.

And then I did.

And it was over for me. I immediately fell for your lusty language, your delicious descriptions, your tantalizing treatment of my most favorite
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Cat
This book was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Gorgeously written, a perfect tribute to M. F. K. Fisher's How to Cook a Wolf in its elegant wit and its celebration of resilience and simplicity. It's a daring thing to deliberately emulate an adulated food writer like M.F.K. Fisher in your chapter titles and structure (what if you fell short?), but Adler doesn't fall short in the slightest. This book is a luscious read and a fabulous cookbook to boot. While I was reading it, I couldn't stop cookin ...more
Rosa
There's a small club of books which, after I've read them, obliterate my need for any gift list the coming Christmas: I'll simply buy the book by the case, and give it to everyone I care about. In this small club are First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom, and Love is the Killer App by Tim Sanders. There are a few others, but those come to mind most immediately.

An Everlasting Meal is newest to the club and I don't think
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Kecia
After reading this book the once mundane task of filling a pot with water and putting it on to boil now seems magical, holy. The simplest of foods, bread, cheese, eggs now occupy a mystical place in my kitchen. Parsley has become sanctified.

I love it when a book totally rearranges all my brain cells. I love it when I suddenly see life with new eyes. About halfway through this book I went to the kitchen to peel an orange for a snack and decided to zest it first to save for my evening meal. The r
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“Great meals rarely start at points that all look like beginnings. They usually pick up where something else leaves off. This is how most of the best things are made - imagine if the world had to begin from scratch each dawn: a tree would never grow, nor would we ever get to see the etchings of gentle rings on a clamshell... Meals' ingredients must be allowed to topple into one another like dominos. Broccoli stems, their florets perfectly boiled in salty water, must be simmered with olive oil and eaten with shaved Parmesan on toast; their leftover cooking liquid kept for the base for soup, studded with other vegetables, drizzled with good olive oil, with the rind of the Parmesan added for heartiness. This continuity is the heart and soul of cooking.” 9 likes
“There is great value in being able to say "yes" when people ask if there is anything they can do. By letting people pick herbs or slice bread instead of bringing a salad, you make your kitchen a universe in which you can give completely and ask for help. The more environments with that atmospheric makeup we can find or create, the better.” 4 likes
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