If I only had four reference books in my kitchen, they'd be:
1. Timing Is Everything 2. The Flavor Bible. 3. Some kind of exhaustive field guide to th...moreIf I only had four reference books in my kitchen, they'd be:
1. Timing Is Everything 2. The Flavor Bible. 3. Some kind of exhaustive field guide to the grocery store which I haven't yet identified.
4. The Food Substitutions Bible. It is what it says it is. If you don't have a rangpur, also known as a "mandarin lime," you could swap it out for a calamondin. Or a lemon. Or a lime. Or a half lime plus a quarter mandarin orange, blood orange, or navel orange.
For marionberries, you can swap blackberries (which are smaller), or logan berries (which would impart a red color), or boysenberries (which are slightly sweeter), or even olallieberries (which are sweeter still).
What I'm trying to convey is that this book is extremely thorough, and sometimes a real kick. There are guides for selecting ingredients, and extensive weight and volume equivalent charts. There is no substitute for this book.(less)
I generally find that when a cookbook claims to be the ultimate, or the favorite, or the best, it's none of those things. Fortunately, such cookbooks...moreI generally find that when a cookbook claims to be the ultimate, or the favorite, or the best, it's none of those things. Fortunately, such cookbooks tend to be plenty good enough, even so. This particular one doesn't do much to educate cooks, nor does it have notable verve, but it does have a variety of worthwhile simple vegetarian recipes featuring accessible ingredients.
I was reminded of this book earlier this evening. I decided to throw some herbed cheese in a saucepan with some pasta and chard, an idea inspired by this recipe contained therein: "Tagliatelle with Spinach and Soy Garlic Cheese." I made that dish for the first time a little over ten years ago. I remember being very enthusiastic about sharing the surprisingly good flavor of that fifteen-minute dish with friends. And apparently my friend Kristin remembered, too, since she gave me the copy of this book that now sits on my bookshelf. I do highly recommend having dinner with Kristin. I wouldn't hesitate in saying that that experience is the ultimate.
I checked this book out from the local library because I prefer to read about food than to read about much of anything else, and figured I might have...moreI checked this book out from the local library because I prefer to read about food than to read about much of anything else, and figured I might have a better time keeping track of U.S. history in my head if I could attach recipes to certain events.
There's much to read in this book apart from the recipes themselves (most of which are collected and reprinted from original texts in the language of the original authors. Mr. Zanger also translates these earlier recipes into a more familiar, modernized format, with some modernized ingredient substitutions.) The book is arranged in a rough chronology, with chapters dedicated primarily to historic events and movements (WWII, for example, or Women's Suffrage, though there are also chapters such as "School Lunch: 1912-1960.") And each recipe is prefaced with some historical context.
I recommend this book as a collection of culinary curiosities and miscellany. America has been a pretty weird place. This book isn't the sort of thing that will give a person a round sense of America's past, nor does it make any kind of argument about that history. I don't think it attempts even to present a complete *culinary* history of the country.
This book does, however, offer maybe a thousand or more windows into particular moments in time. After reading this, I don't know that I could explain Jacksonian politics any better than I could before, but I now know what some particular individuals from the past thought about particular foods, and I can make those foods for myself. I can't think of a much more intimate link with history than sharing that experience.
A lot of these recipes I'd never want to make. Why put oneself through the drudgery of eating hardtack? I do wish the book contained more apparatus for learning history . . . some timelines, maybe, more pictures, more graphs, more schoolbook-type tools. What is here, though, inspires me to know a whole lot more, and I say that not to be critical, but grateful.(less)
"You will find here," says the introduction of my original edition of this book from 1935, with its wooden cover and yellowing pages, "published for t...more"You will find here," says the introduction of my original edition of this book from 1935, with its wooden cover and yellowing pages, "published for the first time in book form, we believe, the truly amazing recipe for 'Kentucky Burgoo', and the celebrated recipe for 'pot likker', which is a familiar dish in almost every part of the south, particularly in the homes of the poor white and the negro."
Old weird America lives on in this little pamphlet of a book. It makes me wonder very much about the South in the 1930's: whether opossum was very regularly eaten, for example, or guspachy salad. I'd be curious to find other southern cookery books from the time, especially any compiled by actual southerners. I have to wonder if other books have as much emphasis on rhymes about "coons" working the fields, and negro eating habits.
I haven't tried many recipes from this, though many of them look perfectly decent. Some require ingredients such as sassafrass and terrapin, which I wouldn't know where to find. In the meanwhile, this book is as odd and interesting to leaf through as any cookbook I've found(less)
Having been inspired by This' earlier book, *Molecular Gastronomy*, I was excited to read this. Both books give me a hankering to get into the kitchen...moreHaving been inspired by This' earlier book, *Molecular Gastronomy*, I was excited to read this. Both books give me a hankering to get into the kitchen and play around. But then, that's not a hard thing to do. Much of the technical material covered here has already been covered in the other work; still, it's nice to be reminded the ways that challenging traditional cooking methods can yield surprising delights.
One of the main goals of the author seems to correct for his developing reputation as a technician, and to prove that a warm human heart beats beneath his lab coat. To that end, I'm convinced. He seems like a nice enough fellow. I don't have any reason to doubt that he values generosity as a virtue in the kitchen. I'm glad that he is nice. That said, his pronouncements about love and its relationship to cooking seem overstated. One is led to imagine that Mr. This worries about the dangerousness of molecular gastronomy, and wants to make sure that A) he gets credit for inventing this new science of food, and B) it's used for only noble causes.
I like the idea of a book that meditatively takes us through the invention of a single meal. In the case of this book, I wish he had applied the rigor displayed in his culinary method to the work of his philosophical ponderings. Or that he had pared this material down to a single chapter that might be included in a different book . . . preferably that presents more of the technical challenges that he so deeply understands.
This book explicitly claims not to be practical (In case you didn't get that implication from the title.)
It's a charming little gift book. I got mine...moreThis book explicitly claims not to be practical (In case you didn't get that implication from the title.)
It's a charming little gift book. I got mine from my friend Elyse, who happens to be particularly good at picking out gift books. But why would one want a book filled with random facts about and quotes regarding food and its history?
Because then you can know about Russian doll roasts (think turducken). You could begin preparing one of these dishes by stuffing a clove and a caper into an olive, then stuffing that into a bec-figue, then that into an ortolan . . . and so forth, until you've got fifteen or twenty birds stuffed into a turkey, and then finally, into an enormous bustard.
Or: you could be at a baby shower, and mention the idea of these elaborate Russian doll concoctions, and discover that someone else there is familiar with a particular ritual involved in eating ortolan, those tiny little birds, bones and all. That might call to mind for someone else in the conversation Loren Groff's book "Delicate Edible Birds," and, in the end, you will have had a very interesting conversation. Assuming, of course, that the others at the baby shower have an interest in interesting miscellany.
Undoubtedly, this book is misnamed. (It is a recipe book, not a story book.) And perhaps it is overly-praised. I imagine every recipe in this book tas...moreUndoubtedly, this book is misnamed. (It is a recipe book, not a story book.) And perhaps it is overly-praised. I imagine every recipe in this book tastes perfect, but only if one's palate has been cultivated in a particular way.
Mr. Hopkinson has no use for the avant-garde, saying that their ideas are very often "misguided." He claims that good cooking is a blend of common sense and good taste, and prefers to please diners rather than impress them.
I *do* very much enjoy reading this book. The prose style is lovely. The author loves the dishes he describes. I find his arguments about proper cooking very compelling.
However, I also think that he, like the conservative in any aesthetic tradition, misses out on some wonderful things. I agree that it's more noble to give guests something to comfort them than it is to present them with show-offy flourishes of culinary prowess. That said, and with all due respect and fondness for lip-smacking, memory-evoking, home-cooked goodness, I do think there's another way of cooking, and that a person would have to step outside Mr. Hopkinson's way of thinking to discover it. There are many ways to delight dinner guests by surprising them, I think. Such surprises can be at least as generous and pleasing as any roast chicken.(less)
It's easy to see why the world's most forward-thinking chefs have been inspired by this book. Admittedly, I glossed over a lot of chemistry in this bo...moreIt's easy to see why the world's most forward-thinking chefs have been inspired by this book. Admittedly, I glossed over a lot of chemistry in this book, of which I had little to no understanding. In spite of that, Herve This' book is as fun to read as he is French. (I'm not sure: did that make sense?) Consider the definition of "flavor" found in the glossary to his book:
"A term that describes the synthetic sensation produced by eating and drinking . . . that corresponds to the French gout. It is a pity that the English word has been imported into French (flaveur) and that gout usually is translated in English as "taste"! But let us persevere in our campaign against error: The world of tomorrow will be the one that we create today."
Mr. This' book is full of challenges to the reader. Even as he describes the science behind potential new cooking techniques, he offers no recipe for success, but dares readers to give the new methods a whirl and explore the outcomes.(less)
This is one of my favorite books. In addition to recipes, there's a lot of weird old-timey remedies, and lots of good advice for how to be a respectab...moreThis is one of my favorite books. In addition to recipes, there's a lot of weird old-timey remedies, and lots of good advice for how to be a respectable gentlewoman in the 17th century. I recommend the whole thing. Here's a sample recipe for Neats-Tongues Boiled:
Salt a Tongue twelve hours, or boil it in water and salt it till it bet tender, blanch it, serve it on carved Sippets or Brewis, with boiled Turnips and Onion, run it over with beaten Butter, and garnish it with Barberries or Grapes.(less)
If I only had four reference books in my kitchen, they'd be:
1. The Food Substitutions Bible 2. The Flavor Bible 3. Some kind of exhaustive field guide t...moreIf I only had four reference books in my kitchen, they'd be:
1. The Food Substitutions Bible 2. The Flavor Bible 3. Some kind of exhaustive field guide to the grocery store which I haven't yet identified.
4. Timing Is Everything: The Complete Timing Guide to Cooking. It tells you how long it takes to cook everything, along with other various ways to know if a food is properly cooked. It also tells you how long you can store food. Very simple. Very thorough. Very perfect.(less)
What a smart little book! Smartly written, smartly arranged, dozens of smart directives. A smart gift, especially for a beginning cook or someone with...moreWhat a smart little book! Smartly written, smartly arranged, dozens of smart directives. A smart gift, especially for a beginning cook or someone with a beginner's mind. This provides a very easy and efficient way to learn the grammar of the kitchen.(less)
This book has old poems and new poems. It fortunately contains some of the poems I think of most when I think of poems about Florida: by Stevens, by B...moreThis book has old poems and new poems. It fortunately contains some of the poems I think of most when I think of poems about Florida: by Stevens, by Bishop, by Justice. However, many of the more contemporary poems in the book are flat, comprising uninspired descriptions of landscape and lists of uniquely Floridian items. There are better contemporary poems out there, written by poets whose concerns are other than creating literary postcards for the folks back home. That said, I don't know of another book of this kind, and I appreciate that it takes its subject seriously without itself being too serious. It contains a good dozen really lovely poems for which I am grateful. That's not too shabby for any anthology.(less)