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

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,178 Ratings  ·  640 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 summoning respectable meals f
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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Scribner
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Tina Loooove this book and read it, hungrily, from cover to cover. I've never read a more abstract and creative take on food writing--and learned a whole…moreLoooove this book and read it, hungrily, from cover to cover. I've never read a more abstract and creative take on food writing--and learned a whole new way to think about cooking, too!
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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
93rd out of 758 books — 1,408 voters
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanThe Art of Eating by Mary Francis Kennedy FisherFood Matters by Mark BittmanAn Everlasting Meal by Tamar AdlerAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Sweet Food Writing
4th out of 33 books — 23 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Chris
Mar 03, 2012 Chris rated it it was ok
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
Dec 02, 2012 Irena Smith rated it it was amazing
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
Steve
Mar 17, 2012 Steve rated it liked it
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
Kelly Bragg
Feb 24, 2012 Kelly Bragg rated it it was amazing
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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Ce Ce
Apr 08, 2015 Ce Ce rated it it was amazing
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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Kate
Aug 03, 2012 Kate rated it it was amazing
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
Nick Klagge
Jul 07, 2012 Nick Klagge rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
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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sharon
Jul 07, 2015 sharon rated it really liked it
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
Feb 08, 2015 Janet rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
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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Louise
Dec 26, 2012 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, food
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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Trace
Nov 18, 2012 Trace rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, favorites
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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Sara
Jun 10, 2013 Sara rated it really liked it
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
Laurie
May 15, 2012 Laurie rated it really liked it
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
Janice
Jun 05, 2012 Janice rated it did not like it
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
Marya Dumont
Nov 19, 2012 Marya Dumont rated it it was amazing
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
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!
Crystal
Dec 02, 2011 Crystal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Antigone
Aug 21, 2014 Antigone rated it really liked it
Shelves: craft
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
Kristy
Jun 04, 2014 Kristy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ariel Cummins
Jan 29, 2012 Ariel Cummins rated it really liked it
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
Dec 20, 2013 Vivian rated it really liked it
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
Mar 07, 2013 Amelia rated it liked it
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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Sarah
Mar 26, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok
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
Mallory
Feb 03, 2016 Mallory rated it liked it
I definitely found myself embracing a lot of her ideas about cooking! I especially liked her approach avoiding kitchen waste by dealing with vegetables right when you buy them and using the scraps. For a book that's about the joys of home cooking she was very frank about sometimes not being inspired to cook, or making something very simple (One of the dinner party dessert suggestions: put chunks of dark chocolate on a platter and give everyone a glass of scotch. Invite me.)

Occasionally I found
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Victoria Goddard
Mar 19, 2015 Victoria Goddard rated it it was amazing
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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Lillian
Jun 22, 2016 Lillian rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Modeled after M. F. K. Fisher's How To Cook A Wolf, Adler's book places it in a more contemporary setting. It is a no nonsense cookbook about eating 'affordably, responsibly and healthily' that requires actual cooking. What a concept. This is another important cookbook, cogent, precise and accessible even to non cooks (trust me - I should know). Along with The Joys of Cooking, Adler's book should be a standard item in every kitchen.
Adult summer reading Book Bingo has made me read not one, but tw
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Nico N
Apr 03, 2016 Nico N rated it really liked it
This book is about freedom to think outside the box when it comes to food. For someone like me, who follows a recipe to a tee, it's revolutionary (and scary) to read a cookbook that tells you to put in a little bit of this or a little bit of that, whatever you may have on hand. Less a recipe book than an idea book, An Everlasting Meal gives guidance more than rigid rules. Few recipes are spelled out with specific ingredients and measurements. Instead, Adler encourages the reader to choose from a ...more
Vmichelle Skinner
I adore this book. Is that too strong? But it's gotten me thinking and re-thinking about how I cook.

In recent years I am a very big "recipe" cook, often using recipes with too many ingredients and too much complication. I feel like in the age of the internet and blogs and pinterest there are endless new "recipes" to try and also I think in foodie culture, food and cooking has become more complex. Complex recipes with long lists of exotic ingredients can make cooking hard work and expensive and
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Liz VanDerwerken
An Everlasting Meal is the loveliest food writing I've ever read. Tamar Adler is talented inside the kitchen and out; her prose is elegant and ethereal, and she transforms simple cooking into elegant fare. No matter how bare your cupboards, how unsalvageable your ruined meal, how short on time you are, she introduces new ways of thinking about food and about cooking to combat all of the problems that befall the home cook. She instructs you to place a pot of water on the stove to boil as soon as ...more
Carrie
Aug 03, 2015 Carrie rated it it was amazing
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
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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
“If we were taught to cook as we are taught to walk, encouraged first to feel for pebbles with our toes, then to wobble forward and fall, then had our hands firmly tugged on so we would try again, we would learn that being good at it relies on something deeply rooted, akin to walking, to get good at which we need only guidance, senses, and a little faith. We aren't often taught to cook like that, so when we watch people cook naturally, in what looks like an agreement between cook and cooked, we think that they were born with an ability to simply know that an egg is done, that the fish needs flipping, and that the soup needs salt. Instinct, whether on the ground or in the kitchen, is not a destination but a path.” 5 likes
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