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Rose's Lime

I think you're right. They should stop pretending certain cookbooks are for cooking from and should release them in less durable, cheaper, perfect bound paperback. I felt this way about Tony Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook. Grateful to receive it. Read it cover to cover, but realistically, do I need another book that tells me how to cook the same bistro standards.

Addison

Think of Richard Olney and his sole true heir, Paul Bertolli. You read those books (esp Simple French Food and Cooking By Hand) and it's like they're there, talking with you, making you think about food. The recipes are almost incidental, and often as vague as those in the Alice B. Toklas book, but they're almost invariably great and make you feel confident in knowledge and having learned something rather than simply having measured correctly. You become engaged, thinking "hmm, less tarragon next time" instead of "well I won't try that one again."

Jacqueline

Hello again! I love the FungWah/Durgin Park challenge, keep us posted. I bought Henderson's book and am very intrigued. I'm mostly drawn to his respect for simple food and its place in our life. Initially fearing it was a tool of macho eaters (I can eat grosser stuff than you) I have been touched by a few of the passages. I'd love to hear your thoughts on a couple of my recent posts, too. I think we are kindred spirits...
Jacqueline Church
http://leatherdistrictgourmet.blogspot.com

Fesser

Agreed with all of the above. In re TB's cookbok, like everything else he does it appears to be about increasing the length, girth, and general veininess of his brand, and I found some of his efforts to put his touch on the book (esp "while the steak rests, blaze one up" at one point) to be a little bit too much. But conversely, Fergus is at his most charming when he is idiosyncratic and imprecise in his directions.

mzn

I've been mulling this one over. I find Fergus charming almost always and read bits of The Whole Beast now and then for fun but I have had only spotty success with the recipes. I wonder sometimes if the offal is better in England. And I agree with commenter Jacquline re macho eating; that's not what WB is like.

I'll take just about any cookbook to the living room regardless of how it is written. I'm especially fond of the 50s-60s era volumes aimed at housewives that I buy at a used bookstore, my favorite of which is called Serve It Cold! But some of my most reliable preparations come from fairly straightforward writers like Marcella Hazan and Madhur Jaffrey who I rarely just read for fun. I feel I trust them to know how things work in their respective culinary traditions but I come for the food, not the prose.

I agree complely about Judy Rogers. With Judy you get the sizzle and the bacon.

carl

Elizabeth David, especially French Provincial Cooking, An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, and the bread book. I used to have a little shrine to her in my apartment. Erudition, wit, grace, and unerring taste. She is the Goddess.

And then, of course, Patience Gray's Honey from a Weed, which is a must for any serious and curious cook who lives in a Mediterranean climate.

And Richard Olney's Simple French Food is not to be missed. One of the best cookbooks ever written in English.

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