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

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  25,003 ratings  ·  404 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
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published October 2nd 2007 by Clarkson Potter
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Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-library
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
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I assume, but shouldn't, that anyone looking at this book knows who Alice Waters is. For those who do not - she is the "mother" of the farm to table movement. Her restaurant is world famous for its sustainable foods that she grows herself or she ensures that it comes from a sustainable source. The work she has done with the local school children, teaching them organic gardening so that they grow their own food for their school lunches, is phenomenal to say the least. It's a movement that is bril ...more
Oct 16, 2007 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
Apr 06, 2012 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
Feb 27, 2009 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.
Feb 22, 2009 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
Sep 24, 2009 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who like to read/think about cooking but don't actually cook
I really wanted to like this book. I'm a fan of what Alice Waters has done for promoting local, organic, well raised food. I'm planning a vacation that involves eating at her restaurants at least twice. I know from experience that the secret to really good food is to take really good ingredients and prepare them simply, and I try to apply that to my cooking.

But I still found this book intimidating and inaccessible. I mean, someone asked her what to cook when you're not trying to entertain eight
Jan 19, 2009 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
Matthew Gatheringwater
Nov 03, 2007 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
Aug 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cooking, food
This is a good basic book on cooking, with a lot of recipes based on fresh food and straightforward techniques. The early part of the book on techniques didn't really add much to my knowledge (because I have done a lot of cookbook reading and cooking). But then I realized that the recipes were a good compilation of different ideas using fresh vegetables which would be valuable to have in one place. I checked the book out of my library's online collection, but I believe I will be purchasing it fo ...more
Helga Cohen
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book by Alice Waters is an indispensable resource for home cooks. Alice Waters is responsible for the revolution in the way we eat and cook. Her dishes focus on delicious flavors and reverence for locally produced, seasoned foods. Her emphasis on fresh foods, cooking from scratch, eating family dinners and buying from local growers and dairy/meat farms is great for society and a better place to live. She explains all of this in this book and includes some wonderful recipes.
Jan 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all who cook or need to eat
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
Apr 20, 2009 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
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, cookbook
I'm sure it's a great book and all, but I lost interest immediately after the first few pages because of the misnomer. At first it talks about local and sustainable eating practices which is all fine and good...but then the following names of the recipes and the ingredients/methods required were ANYTHING but Simple. The word I would use is "fancy." But, everyone else who reviewed said the recipes are TOO simple. Are we talking about the same book? Maybe I happened across a few recipes with ingre ...more
Apr 06, 2008 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
Mar 08, 2022 rated it really liked it
Solid cookbook. made me very hungry while reading. The concept of her book as a representation of the new “clean eating” movement made me interested in it originally; I feel that it does have some parallels with and perhaps insights into the direction of trends in food nowadays.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent cookbook. True to its title, the recipes are simple and delicious.
Apr 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
This is a great basic cookbook. I would definitely like a copy of this for my own collection.

The basics of cooking are covered here, as well as basic tools, measurements, pantry staples, and delicious recipes. I definitely recommend this book.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love reading about food and this is really more than a cookbook- it is a rethinking of how to approach and think about food!
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
The virtues of simplicity in food preparation...Alice Waters's book is replete with classic recipes that can be prepared and tweaked without much ado. It's a handsome book too... ...more
Nov 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Favorite cookbook ever! Love the way she incorporates the ingredient list in the directions. Tasteful and easy to make with few ingredients.
Steven Peterson
Oct 04, 2009 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
Nov 30, 2008 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
Oct 08, 2007 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
Mar 04, 2012 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
Feb 08, 2010 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 meat or p
Feb 08, 2009 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.

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.
Oct 24, 2007 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
Feb 01, 2010 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
Mar 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: foodie
The best cookbook I own. Okay, so I haven't made everything in it, but, so far: My own mayonnaise, Salsa verde, focaccia, bread, pasta, salad with blood oranges, poached pears, and incredibly good brined roast chicken. Other stuff, too. This cookbook is a fabulous way to learn how to make basic stuff taste wonderful. I make something different from it every weekend, and everything so far has been a winner and an accomplishment! ...more
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Alice Waters is a chef, author, food activist, and the founder and owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California. She has been a champion of local sustainable agriculture for over four decades. In 1995 she founded the Edible Schoolyard Project, which advocates for a free school lunch for all children and a sustainable food curriculum in every public school.

She has been Vice President of

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