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The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,228 Ratings  ·  360 Reviews
Perhaps more responsible than anyone for the revolution in the way we eat, cook, and think about food, Alice Waters has “single-handedly chang[ed] the American palate” according to the New York Times. Her simple but inventive dishes focus on a passion for flavor and a reverence for locally produced, seasonal foods.

With an essential repertoire of timeless, approachable reci
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Hardcover, 416 pages
Published October 2nd 2007 by Clarkson Potter (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Ginny
Feb 12, 2008 Ginny rated it really liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
I'm one of those people who reads cookbooks cover to cover when I get them. Strange? This book was a re-gifted Christmas present from a friend who didn't want it. Their loss was my gain. I'd seen the book in the bookstore before and was turned off by the lack of photos and the atypical recipe format of not putting all the ingredients in one list at the start of the recipe.
However, as I started to make the first dishes I found that for actually cooking/baking this format is easier and better tho
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Annie
Jan 30, 2008 Annie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: food, cookbooks
I'm being biased in my star rating because this isn't really a great cookbook by any means. I just love Alice Waters and appreciate her purpose in writing this.

This isn't so much a "cookbook" as it is a book that tries to educate on how to approach food differently, to get our minds out of the increasingly fast-food mentality.

If someone who didn't know Alice Waters' goals were to pick it up, they might be disappointed with the cursory, almost random-seeming and too-simple recipes. They read like
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Crystal
Feb 27, 2009 Crystal rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. It has wonderful, simple recipes and explanations on technique. I liked that it gives recipes according to season, so that you can utilize the seasonal fruits and veggies.
Jamie
Mar 04, 2009 Jamie rated it it was amazing
Every time I go into a book store (a dangerous place for me to be), I flip though this book. I love the cover, I always wanted to eat at her restaurant and just love the concept. Having not eaten meat in nearly...gees...seven years, I'm quite picky about my cook books. I already don't eat meat, I'm not going to give up the art of real cooking, too.
This book is absolutely terrific for the seasoned cook and novice. In fact, as a twenty year-old newbie who grew up without a cook in the home, this b
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Geoff
Apr 06, 2012 Geoff rated it really liked it
Alice Waters takes a lot of shit for beginning the whole organic, locally-sourced food movement in the USA. People think it's elitist, or some hippy crap, or that it's too expensive for "regular folks", whoever the hell that refers to. I call bullshit on the bullshit callers. One can eat cheap, healthy, organic, local, and rounded- you just have to plan and make an effort when you shop, and learn some techniques, some go-to inexpensive ingredients, learn about the wonders simple things like fres ...more
Matthew Gatheringwater
Dec 30, 2007 Matthew Gatheringwater rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: someone relearning to cook
Shelves: cookbooks
Although it contains a small cookbook within a cookbook, The Art of Simple Food is more of a how-to book, with an emphasis on ingredients and technique, rather than on a comprehensive list of recipes. This is a good book for someone wanting to change their relationship to food because Water's insistence upon quality and integrity encourages thoughtful and appreciative eating.

There are, however, some disappointments in this book. Many of these recipes are so simple they can be found nearly anywhe
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Mary
Jan 12, 2008 Mary rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all who cook or need to eat
Shelves:
I just started this last night and I love it. The author, the owner of a lovely, but upscale restaurant, talks about food and cooking in a very down to earth way. Her premise is that anyone can cook and the only things you need are good ingredients (especially fresh local produce/herbs), good equipment (but not necessarily the most expensive), and the basic know-how. All of these things are explained and detailed in her book which reads nicely (particularly at 2:00 a.m. when you're on the couch ...more
Jean
Mar 18, 2009 Jean rated it it was amazing
Really should be a part of everyone's basic cooking library. Alice Waters gives plenty of ideas for modifying recipes to what is local and fresh for wherever you are. This makes me feel less like a food-loser when I can't find something for a recipe. Everything still turns out delightful.

Sheela - Brussels Sprouts Gratin: Beautiful, special, tasty, crispy, cheesy awesome. Really. Lick the pan good.

Me - Pot Roast: Succulent, perfect instructions. Made me feel like almost as good a cook as my momi
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Steven Peterson
Oct 04, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it it was amazing
A few preliminary comments from the author that put the book in context. From the author (pages 4, 5): "This book is for everyone who wants to learn to cook, or to become a better cook. . . . I'm convinced that the underlying principles of good cooking are the same everywhere. These principles have less to do with recipes and techniques than they do with gathering good ingredients, which for me is the essence of cooking." Key aspects of her "philosophy" are printed on pages 6-7, among which are: ...more
Valerie
Mar 04, 2012 Valerie rated it really liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
Last fall I was obsessed with her ratatouille - and the other recipes in this book are just as good. Marinated Beet Salad, Homemade Sauerkraut, Wilted Chard with Onion. The first part of the book concentrates on getting started - ingredients and equipment. It has a helpful list of recipes that can be made from items generally at hand ("Cooking from the Pantry"). Then there's "What to Cook?" that talks about seasonal menu planning, special meals, and packing a lunch. The next few chapters handle ...more
Rebecca
Oct 19, 2007 Rebecca rated it really liked it
This is a book for people who cook at home regularly--the recipes are, as advertised, simple and yet not so simple as to be disappointing. The first half of it reviews useful basic techniques such as making salads, simple vegetable soups, and slow-roasting meats. Each section features a few example recipes that show how to implement the technique. The second half of the book is filled with recipes.

There's a spying quality to this book--part of its appeal for me is that it feel like I've gained
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Belinda
Nov 30, 2008 Belinda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: timeless, howto
This may be the first "cookbook" that I read from cover to cover, which works for it. It's like The Story of Food and How to Cook It.

It really says something about how easy it is to get quite removed from our culinary "roots" that when I (and many other people, judging by some of the reviews I've read) began the book, the ultra-simple concepts at first seemed just a bit over my head...kinda "fancy," if you will. That's almost perverse, upon reflection.

Waters deconstructs food ALL THE WAY back t
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Jim
Apr 20, 2009 Jim rated it liked it
It's Alice Waters - how could I turn it down?

This book seemed to be much ado about nothing, but has grown on me considerably. It's not a glossy-photo-and-recipe book, nor a disguised food memoir. It does have a much more narrative feel that most recipe-by-recipe books; Waters simply talks about particular foods in each chapter, stopping for a recipe when it seems apt. Her personality comes through in full as a result, and if it's a fairly quiet personality, it has authority and assurance to go w
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kaity
Feb 08, 2010 kaity rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
Light on the recipes, heavy on technique & the Alice Waters philosophy that makes her school of cooking a modern classic.

I love the thoughtful & detailed instructions and suggestions for making things that had previously intimidated me. I brought this book home from the library and immediately started making pasta by hand for the first time. It turned out great, and I finished the meal thinking, "Homemade ravioli wouldn't be hard at all!" Also, being a flex-itarian who rarely prepares m
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Linda
Apr 04, 2009 Linda rated it really liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
I got this from the library, and I've already tried two recipes. The recipe for doctoring up olives transformed my too-acidic farmers market olives into a tasty treat, and the one for salsa verde was the perfect excuse to buy (and for once, use!) chervil. It made a delicious sauce for fried eggs this morning.

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I probably don't need to own this, as the philosophy is similar to Deborah Madison's. Still, it's fun to read the book version of the Chez Panisse spinoff that's down the street from me.
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Sheri
May 15, 2008 Sheri rated it liked it
I borrowed this from the library.
I was intrigued by everything I've heard about Alice Waters. I think I could really learn a lot about cooking from this book (since I'm cooking impaired). But I doubt that the recipes will work for me as I go back to work in the fall and am increasingly pushed for time to make dinners.

I love reading about her ideas on buying good equipment and eating seasonally. Unfortunately, not all of us have such access to incredible farmer's markets and must make do with Saf
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Trish
Oct 24, 2007 Trish rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in eating well
This book is an essential primer for the preparation of simple delicious food from the Slow/Local/Sustainable Food guru herself Alice Waters. Instructions that bring you belong just picking up your organic milk and gourmet pesto at Wholefoods and calling it a day. This book teaches you the fundamentals so you can do it yourself: roasting the perfect chicken, making aioli, pesto, salsa verde, soup, bread, an array of delicious veggies, deserts/tarts and much more. A great reference to have on the ...more
Jane
Feb 01, 2010 Jane rated it really liked it
It's come to my attention that some of you poor suckers don't live in a Mediterranean climate. Get another book, possibly one with tater tot casseroles. But hey, it's an Alice Waters cookbook- it has recipes for actual meals, (The other ones? Get twelve pounds of salmon and some truffles. Set aside eight hours to cook.) and I read it all the way through.

Also, I cooked a dinner for m future in laws out of this. They are super fussy, I spent less than $40 and two hours, and it was incredible. Fant
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Mark
Feb 12, 2016 Mark rated it it was amazing
This is the book, for me, that finally made cooking click. No other cookbook I've found sets out the vision of how to think about cooking properly, and I'm the kind of person who likes things explained well. Yeah, I can follow a recipe. Yeah, it turns out okay. No, I have no idea why, or what the concepts underlying the method of cooking really were. In this cookbook, Alice Waters lays the foundation upon which you can build your repertoire of cooking. It's probably too simple, with only bits of ...more
Zenith
Dec 22, 2014 Zenith rated it it was ok
Shelves: cookbooks
I wanted to like this book. I love Alice Waters' vegetable book, I like her philosophy about food, and I'm all about books that give me the tools to go out and make great food, whether or not I actually whip them out on a regular basis.

This book doesn't cut it. It doesn't work as a reference, a la "the joy of cooking," because although a lot of the basics are there (mayonnaise, pie pastry, how to roast various things), I keep looking for things are aren't in there. It also doesn't work as a book
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Liz
Jul 16, 2012 Liz rated it it was amazing
After receiving this as a gift several years ago, I'm finally getting into it. I cannot say enough good things about it. And I don't need to - it's a classic. I will say that this is not a book of recipes; This is a book about how to cook. I'm reading it cover to cover, and I'm convinced that's the only way to do it. Every recipe I've tried has been simple and delicious. Eating locally, letting good ingredients shine...this book is what I'm about. I love it.
Courtney Payne
Oct 13, 2007 Courtney Payne rated it really liked it
Just bought it at Costco. Ironic isn't it? Don't tell Alice.

Love it! I have a million 'simple' cookbooks. For some reason this one is the most inspiring. I want to make fresh pasta, simple tomato sauce, yummy salad dressings...stay tuned to see if I actually do.
J.L. Wilson
Mar 07, 2015 J.L. Wilson rated it it was amazing
This is my Go To Cookbook and has replaced The Joy of Cooking as my essential How To in the kitchen.

I read this cover to cover (skimming the recipes). It was an enjoyable reading experience as well as providing valuable advice for cooking. I've been cooking for decades, but learned something new about almost everything.

I've been trying hard to live an unprocessed-food life for the past 5 years. It's pretty easy to do here in the Midwest especially since there's an awesome Co-Op not far away and
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Veronica
Feb 18, 2015 Veronica rated it it was amazing
Received my own copy of this for Christmas (so my ex-, ex-, ex-roommate of four years ago can finally have his copy back!), and am so excited to keep it on the windowsill of my new apartment's kitchen for reference.

This is a new review of an old favorite and I have no idea how to begin to even describe what this book means to me. I can't think of anyone who has shaped the past few years of my life more than Alice Waters--as a student at UC Berkeley, learning from her work in the city at Chez Pan
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Barbara
May 17, 2008 Barbara rated it liked it
When following the fried chicken recipe, COVER THE FRYING PAN.
Jessica
Feb 11, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Cooks who want to optimize seasonal fruits/veggies
Shelves: cooking, nonfiction
This book reminded me of a lite version of Joy of Cooking...no pictures, basic (but good) recipes, ingredients listed as you use them. Waters features recipes that are meant to optimize the freshness of seasonal food.

I rely heavily on recipes in my cooking. There are very few meals that I can make without one. This book made me think that perhaps one day I would be confident enough to look in the pantry and just wing it with dinner.

Like the Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health cookbook, the v
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Maze Branch Oak Park Public Library
This book sparked an interesting conversation for our What's Cooking group. Most participants thought this cookbook warranted 3 or 4 stars with one person who thought it was only worth one star. The average was 3.5 stars.

There was discussion about the lack of pictures - we missed them but we didn't think it was detrimental to the effectiveness of the recipes.

It shares its format with Joy of Cooking...basic (but good) recipes with no pictures, and ingredients introduced as they are needed in the
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Katie
Aug 07, 2008 Katie rated it it was amazing
This book is fantastic. Mark bought it for me as a gift knowing that Ms. Waters fundamental guidelines for living are akin to mine. This book is a manual for someone who wants to "eat locally & sustainably, eat seasonally, shop at farmers' markets, plant a garden, conserve, compost, & recycle, cook simply, cook together, eat together, [and] remember that food is precious." But unlike other books I've encountered that purport to do the same, Ms. Waters offers you several recipes, clues, a ...more
Margot
Feb 01, 2010 Margot rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction-food
Alice Waters is the cebrated owner of Chez Panisse, an internationally known restaurant in Berkeley, California and the author of numerous cookbooks. Ms. Waters is also well known for being a big part of the food revolution of the last several decades. Her attitude toward food and cooking steered us back from the trend of buying everything from the shelf and freezer.

"I'm convinced that the underlying principles of good cooking are the same everywhere. These principles have less to do with recipe
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Cherie
Jan 05, 2013 Cherie rated it really liked it
When I first started it, I thought this would ba a good 1st cook book for a beginner. I still think it could be, but not as a "stand alone" cook book. I liked the way the book was put together. It covered all of the major cooking basics and the range of food stuffs that a beginner would need to know about.

The recipies are limited by the author's preferences for vinegrette dressings, but are still a great base for all of the food groups. I really liked the range of foods and the country referenc
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Cooking from the Art of Simple Food 2 43 Mar 03, 2012 04:41PM  
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Alice Waters, chef, author, and the proprietor of Chez Panisse, is an American pioneer of a culinary philosophy that maintains that cooking should be based on the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. She is a passionate advocate for a food economy that is “good, clean, and fair.” Over the course of nearly forty years, Chez Panisse has helped create a ...more
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“Let things taste of what they are.” 15 likes
“When you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is.” 1 likes
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