I love reading about food — history, memoirs, and yes, recipe books. I read some blogs; admittedly, I need to read more of them. What I’ve discovered is that I enjoy the collective story of the culinary journey.
I recently came across the blog Poor Man’s Feast, written by Elissa Altman, and the 2012 winner of the James Beard individual food blog award. Her writing is everything a food writer should be, and the blog is an amazing homage to memory, food, and her mother.
Right now, I’m currently digesting The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food, by Judith Jones. As an Editor at Knopf Publishing Co. she is responsible for bringing us “Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, and Madhur Jaffrey, the Indian actress turned cook. The stories in the Tenth Muse are rich in American culinary history and rife with food memories. Sometimes I wish I’d had a young adulthood like that, taking notes on what and where I feasted. Jones brings into startling focus the recipes she tested for the cookbooks she edited as well as the joys of eating a simple meal.
One other current endeavor: I am finally reading Alice Waters, namely her 2007 food philosophy book The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution. In this book Waters covers cooking equipment, pantry necessities, and types of food as a foundation before presenting the actual recipes. By starting with the basics, she helps the new cook feel more secure as they try new techniques. I find her readable, and likeable — and I haven’t even gotten to the recipes yet! Waters gives us a clear direction on her philosophy about cooking; fresh, seasonal, local. And yes, it provides us with yet another piece of the collective culinary journey.
I can’t read every cookbook out there — I don’t even have time to read all the ones I check out from the library — and some of them I give up part way through. Either they are too dense or the material isn’t as interesting as I thought it would be. Reading about cooking, and the way people write about food helps me have a better understanding of my personal culinary journey. Not culinary perfection, but a balance between the simple and the complex.