I’ve long been a cook and foodie. I’d never attempt to cook my way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking ala Julie and Julia author Julie Powell, but I have successfully made several of it’s recipes, including the famous beef bourguignon, I enjoy reading cookbooks, and used to buy a lot of them, but now use the internet and the library for most of them. (Why did I quit? Space and I had one recipe I used in each. Sound familiar?) Recently, I’ve noticed a spate of interesting cooking/foodie books and have been in the mood to read them, so this week I “yummed” my way through two nice short ones–one older (old to some, but I was an adult in the late 80 so it doesn’t seem “old” to me, lol) and one new.
Women in the Kitchen: Twelve Essential Cookbook Writers Who Defined the Way We Eat, from 1661 to Today by Anne Willan, rightly struck me as foodies’ delight. The history of cookbooks in one slim, fast-reading, collection of essays. I was well-versed already in Alice Waters, Julie Child, Fannie Farmer, and Irma Rombauer. The others were truly a fun education.
The “way-back-when’s” were fine, but most interesting to me were Edna Lewis and Marcella Hazan–neither of whom had come to my attention before. Lewis, the daughter of slaves, is the author of The Taste of Country Cooking–which even inspired Alice Waters. Hazan, in the era of Chef Boyardee spaghetti and pizza kits, brought Italian cooking to the American masses with her Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Both–well, ALL, of the ladies were interesting people as well as great cooks. The recipes included range from Brown Sugar Carmel Pie, to Blond Gingerbread, to Ratatouille to Mango Salad With Chile Pepper and beyond. All sound delicious.
My Verdict: 4.0 stars
The late novelist and wonderful home cook, Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen is just as delightful as her novels. It was fun to go back to a time when microwave ovens were not in every home and Starbucks was a Seattle thing only.
“Somehow I have never felt that ‘interesting’ is an encouraging word when applied to food.”
As Colwin tells the story of evolution as a cook, she continues to tell us how she really feels: “For hors d’oeuvres we had something which I believe is called cheese food. It is not so much a food as a product.” Or, another favorite quote of mine on iceberg lettuce: “Most people feel it is an abomination.” Yes! With these quotes to set the stage, you just know the recipes will be good, right? You betcha!
“Chicken salad has a certain glamour to it. Like the little black dress, it is chic and adaptable and can be taken anywhere.” As a life-long chicken salad aficionado, I concur completely. The recipes included for chicken salad alone are fabulous. Throw in the potato salads and…or the beef stew (and I have ONE beef stew recipe–one because no other comes close, but I will be trying this one!).
This book is like cooking with your best foodie-cooking buddy on a good day with the right wine. Thank you to Plucked From the Stacks for reminding me of this book that had been on my TBR too long.
My Verdict 4.0 stars
My review of Laurie Colwin’s novel, Family Happiness.
Another new foodie book review:
My review of the new book, In the Kitchen: Essays on Food and Life.
My reviews of a bunch of cooking and foodie books are combined into this post.
Are you a cook, a chef, a foodie–or a combination of the three? Do you like to read cookbooks or foodie books? Leave me a comment or a link to your post.