If you like nuggets of information presented to you in the form of daily entries for a good whole year, this might be wonderful for you. This book contains culinary wisdom, history, recipes, literacy pleasures and the authors’ own memories of successes and catastrophes.
Of course, you don’t have to read an entry per day for that will take you 365 days to complete the book. Instead, you could take a day or two, have a cuppa before you and savour the information that will delight your mind. I went ‘ohhh’, ‘ahhh’ and ‘I-see’ with the knowledge I have discovered and as the title of the book suggests, they are all related to the culinary arts.
Let me highlight one person who is mentioned in this book and who has made quite an impact on many chefs, especially in the US. While Julia Child and James Beard are worth mentioning, I am devoting this space to Alice Waters.
Alice Waters grew up in New Jersey where she “never tasted a perfectly ripe tomato.” On a trip to France in her early twenties, she experienced for the first time food straight from the garden or farm, simply prepared and eaten at rustic country tables. It changed her life.
She adopted that cooking style as her own, and the friends who gathered at her house in Berkeley often urged her to open a restaurant. The result was Chez Panisse, which opened its door in 1971.
Over the years, her enthusiasm, energyand insistence on perfection changed the face of American dining, first at her own restaurant and then through the chefs who worked with her, adopted her creed, and opened their own restaurants across the country.
An early advocate of organic food, she developed a network of more than sixty farmers and ranchers who supply ingredients to Chez Panisse. She has even created a special position at the restaurant, the forager, whose job is to make the rounds of suppliers and to seek out new ones. Rather than deciding on what will be served and then shopping for the food, the menu is determined each day based on the best ingredients that have been found.
She believes people need to renew a lost connection to the land. Of the few projects she is involved in, there is the Edible Schoolyard, started by her, where kids grow, harvest, cook, and eat their own food. She believes in starting early to teach children not only the wisdom but also the pleasures of eating healthful food. How cool is that!
Her beliefs led me to think about my role and belief in the kitchen. While it is important for me to be prudent in my expenditure, I hope not to do it at the expense of our health. Good food comes from good ingredients – that is a belief I want to hold on to. However, I do see myself compromising when I give in to saving on those costs…and then realise that in the long haul, I may be losing more.
Food for thought.