Author: Tamar Adler
Published: Scribner, 2012
How I got this book: I purchased a copy for myself.
Briefly--Twenty beautiful essays that make me want to move into my kitchen and possibly start eating cooked vegetables.
Full Review--This is not a cookbook, though Adler provides some tips on how to prepare a few basic dishes, such as bread, roasted vegetables, and pasta. My favorites were about boiling pasta and a secret for making perfect scrambled eggs. It shows that cooking really and truly is a lot simpler than many people and books make it out to be. Adler shows the reader how to prepare wonderful food affordably and simply so you can eat well and actually enjoy it. You don't need 84,000 gadgets, tons of time, or complicated lists of ingredients to make a fantastic meal for yourself or for a crowd.
My absolute favorite essay was "How to Paint Without Brushes," which is all about how much cooking equipment you don't need. I am in the position to really go through all of my kitchen stuff and get rid of the excess. All you need are a few utilitarian items and you are set. That's perfect because I've learned that those fussy, single-use only gadgets a) drive me crazy because they waste space and b) rarely get used because being single-purpose items, I store them away, so I either forget to use them or decide to just make do with whatever else is handy instead. The idea of just getting rid of a lot of useless stuff sounds perfect!
Another beautiful essay is "How to Build a Ship," which walks you through what to do when you just don't feel like cooking. It happens. Sometimes there is a decent enough reason--I'm sure I'm not the only one who just needs Chinese food when I am PMS-y or who just gets too tired from spending all day reading to cook--to grab supper out. However, this becomes a slippery slope to me. One meal becomes two or three meals that I just grab something. Then I just don't feel like cooking at all. Adler recommends you just let your mind wander and eventually you remember why you like to cook, which makes you want to cook. Memory, taste, and smell are so closely linked that this is no surprise. Some of my most creative cooking comes at the end of a slump!
A longtime carb lover, I adore Adler's essays on rice and bread and how to make a meal revolve around them. There is a very helpful essay and appendix about how to fix cooking mistakes. There are so many beautiful essays.
This is a wonderful book about the poetry of food. You can be an utter beginner at cooking or an old pro and you will still find something useful to take from this book. I don't know that it will get me to cook more vegetables (it won't; let's be real), but it does enchant me. :)