I know, I know, the book recommendations are usually Francesca’s gig. Well, I’m hijacking it for today.
I recently found myself at loose ends for new reading material. For once, the pleasures of re-reading Anthony Trollope and PG Wodehouse seemed somehow lacking. I wandered into my favorite local bookstore and began browsing the shelves.
When I do this, I invariably check out the cooking section, because I love to cook. In fact, cookbooks rank as my personal pornography of choice. Reading a good recipe, I find my breathing going shallow as my mind conjurs up a vision of making and serving dish after glorious dish. I can smell each ingrediant as it sizzles in my mental pans. I can practically taste the combinations right there on the page.
So when I spotted this book, well, my interest was piqued immediately.
After all, if there’s one thing in the world I love more than good cooking, it’s good writing about cooking. The combination is irresistable to me. More than that, I was always the kid in class who wanted to know why the people in the history books did what they did. It wasn’t enough for me to know that so and so invented such and such or this person assassinated that person. I wanted to understand what made them do these things.
So finding the crossroads between food, words, and the whys and wherefores of personal choice made buying this book inevitable.
Now I’m basking in the joys of reading great cooks talk about cooking. From Anthony Bourdain explaining how to pick the right dish to prepare on a morning news show (hint: do not do steak au poivre, no matter how quick and flashy it is lest you risk setting off the studio sprinklers) to Mario Battali talking about how he learned that more is not always better while working in a tiny Italian trattoria where pasta rolling machines were held in great contempt, to Rick Bayless recounting his childhood obssession with Julia Child, the stories are heartfelt and told in entertaining voices. Some resonate more specifically with me than others do, of course, but all the ones I’ve read thus far have delighted me in their various ways.
So if you love food or a good story that really says something about how someone ticks, do yourself a favor and read How I Learned To Cook.
And if you have a good story from your own culinary education, I’d love to read it.