Perhaps more responsible than anyone for the revolution in the way we eat, cook, and think about food, Alice Waters has “single-handedly chang[ed] the American palate” according to the New York Times. Her simple but inventive dishes focus on a passion for flavor and a reverence for locally produced, seasonal foods.
With an essential repertoire of timeless, approachable recipes chosen to enhance and showcase great ingredients, The Art of Simple Food is an indispensable resource for home cooks. Here you will find Alice’s philosophy on everything from stocking your kitchen, to mastering fundamentals and preparing delicious, seasonal inspired meals all year long. Always true to her philosophy that a perfect meal is one that’s balanced in texture, color, and flavor, Waters helps us embrace the seasons’ bounty and make the best choices when selecting ingredients. Fill your market basket with pristine produce, healthful grains, and responsibly raised meat, poultry, and seafood, then embark on a voyage of culinary rediscovery that reminds us that the most gratifying dish is often the least complex.
This is in my top 10 cookbook list and I give it as a gift. My top ten are cookbooks that have the requisite recipe, but is also instructional and you will learn why you do certain things.
We recently bought Alice Waters’ newest cookbook, The Art of Simple Food, from Amazon. I haven’t cooked a complete recipe from it yet but I’ve read and used several of the sections of advice: how to mix a salad, different strategies for combining pasta and sauce. It’s rather oddly organized. Part I: “Starting from Scratch: Lessons and Foundation Recipes,” runs 212 pages, from “How to Get Started” (what utensils and pots and pans you need and how to lay them out) to “Cookies and Cake” (no explanation necessary). Each chapter starts with general advice and then presents some base recipes or exemplary recipes to illustrate the topic just covered. The second part of the book, “At the Table,” is more conventionally laid out. It is an abbreviated recipe book, 173 pages long. For three decades, Waters has championed the cause of good cooking in her Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse. She is a master chef and food preparer and her advice on cooking is usually on the mark. On the back cover of the book, she lists her fundamental guidelines for cooking and eating: Eat locally and sustainably Eat seasonally. Shop at farmers’ markets. Plant a garden. Conserve, compost and recycle. Cook simply. Eat together. Remember food is precious. The advice is the best part of this book. The recipes seem almost incidental. This is a good bookprovided you don’t expect it to be comprehensive.
I flipped through the pages of this cookbook 3 or 4 times at the bookstore before I was even interested in cooking from it. When you browse the book, it looks so boring–all these recipes that you’ve cooked already, though not Alice Waters’ version. But once I tried a few recipes, I was hooked. These are simple little gems, many of them easy, but they are so well thought-out and perfectly balanced in their flavors. It’s really a foundational book for the Chez Panisse style of cooking. This is not a chatty, entertaining book. You have to sit with it and read slowly to imagine how the recipes will turn out. But if you do, you’ll probably notice how Alice Waters has given most of these standard recipes a new twist–her take on a classic recipe, or an old favorite recipe. When I did this, that’s when I remembered that before Waters became famous for her politics of sustainable, organic food, she caught the world’s attention with her great food. And I mean great food. When I made the Linguine with Clams, that old warhorse, it was the best version of this dish I had ever tasted. And how many cornbread recipes have I made in my life? Waters’ version may be the best I’ve ever tried. A dull sounding recipe, like Baked Sliced Onions, was a revelation. The onions cooked up chewy and sweet, so delicious. And when I made her ridiculously simple recipe for Marinated Beet Salad, I wondered why anyone would want to eat beets any other way. So far I’ve cooked over 20 recipes from this book, and I’ve been pleased with all of them. As with all Chez Panisse recipes, the quality of the ingredients is key. You’ll have to invest in excellent meat and produce, plus the accoutrements of high-quality olive oil, fresh herbs and spices, and the like. Because many recipes are so pared down and simple, every ingredient matters–you taste it all. Before I bought my book on Amazon, I borrowed the book from my public library, xeroxed a couple recipes, and cooked them. I recommend doing this if you can, because this book will not appeal to everyone. Some people will think it’s too easy (the recipes are DECEPTIVELY simple.) But I think the book is remarkable. For a home cook, this cookbook is probably Alice Waters’ best ever.
- Title: The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution
- Autor: Alice Waters
- Publisher (Publication Date): Clarkson Potter (October 2, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: | 0307336794
- ISBN-13: | 978-0307336798
- Download File Format: EPUB, PDF