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An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  6,372 ratings  ·  913 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
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Scribner
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Irena Smith
Dec 02, 2012 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
Mar 03, 2012 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
Mar 17, 2012 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
Nov 01, 2011 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
Ce Ce
Mar 29, 2015 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 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
Sep 11, 2012 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
Esther Espeland
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books about food I have ever read! Freaking loved it. A beautiful book of essays peppered with recipes and guidance. Her approach to food is pleasure-centered with equal weight to simplicity, practicality, and economical thriftiness which checks all my boxes! I immediately started using her recipes and dreaming about cooking with turnips. She shares her reverence for ingredients and uses every part of the animal or vegetable. She’s anti diet, anti capitalist, and anti-cla ...more
Aug 03, 2012 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
Apr 06, 2012 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 -
Tamar Adler's message and tone are somewhat at odds in this book. Her words are saying that cooking is for everyone and not just celebrity chefs and experts, that food does not have to be perfectly arranged on a plate, that it can be a messy daily thing full of mistakes and made on the spot with leftover ingredients that would have ended up in the trash anyway. I happen to hold all of these same beliefs, but her tone is contradicting her. Instead of opening us up to the possibilities of cooking, ...more
Mar 20, 2012 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
Nerdette Podcast
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I don't say things like this lightly, so listen up: This book changed my life. It is so simple and lovely and useful and delicious. ...more
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i read this book a couple of years ago, and enjoyed it-- it's a quick read!-- but didn't think much about it since. it's more of a practical how-to lifestyle book than a cookbook, per se, and the language can get pretty corny ("whilst", "of an evening", stuff like that-- "let's dial it back just like 15% huh," is what i thought a lot).

but today as i was making broth in my kitchen for the next couple of weeks, i realized it was because of this book, and that the change it had brought about in my
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this. It's not an over the top superlative enjoyment nor a disdain at over-writing. It was a pleasant, empowering read. It helps to think of food a little differently, to think of the beauty and companionship of food, the simplicity of enjoying good food well cooked.

The idea of an everlasting meal where one meal feeds into the next and that the next is a beautiful idea. Adler's presentation seems like it is perfect for a single person or couple, but for a family - we eat a head
Anne Bogel
Aug 24, 2012 rated it liked it
I alternately loved Adler's prose and rolled my eyes at it. Many people love this book, and I can see why, but she kinda gets on my nerves. :) ...more
Nick Klagge
Jun 08, 2012 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
May 15, 2012 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
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 Valli
Nov 18, 2012 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
Carol Bakker
Sep 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't like to think of food as carbohydrates and fat because it gives an incomplete picture of how we digest. Belly laughter must burn calories, and good conversation helps speed what needs speeding.

Tamar Adler loves food and loves words. I love her writing. Two chapters in, and she's already quoted Robert Farrar Capon and C.S. Lewis. I surrendered.

I adore her unabashed campaign against food waste. It reminds me of Jacques Pépin's zeal for using up leftovers. (Anybody else recall The Tigh
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tamar Adler has written a down-to-earth and charming book about making and sharing food. It is chock full of great ideas rooted in old (mostly European) and practical ways of doing things in which cooking is a kind of folk art to be shared. Some other reviewers have complained about the writing style, but I found Adler to be fun and literate without being pretentious. She avoids hipster twee and millennial self absorption with grace. In addition to inspiring us to try more parts and forms of the ...more
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This entire book is about cooking. But not just simply cooking as a recipe cookbook would speak to you. It's about how to cook with frugality, economy, efficiency and most of all Grace because we all make mistakes in the kitchen. She has chapters on the major food groups and how to cook those Foods within that group. She has suggestions on how to fix mistakes. And dispersed throughout the chapter are recipes. But I really like the way she writes. It's fluid and Flowery and not what you would exp ...more
Feb 28, 2013 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
Oct 27, 2012 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
Aug 14, 2014 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
Jun 10, 2013 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
Mar 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: to-re-read, cookbooks
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
Dec 21, 2012 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
Sep 24, 2011 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.
Oct 16, 2011 added 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!
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