Emeril Lagasse, Farm to Fork

I like cookbooks. Each book gives me another perspective on food, new recipes to try. A new adddition to the bookshelf breaks me out of my ruts and gets me experimenting again. The last time I checked the cookbook shelves at Barnes and Noble I was disappointed. My culinary point of view is fresh local, but most of the cookbooks are still written for grocery stores stocked with out-of-season produce. I pretty much reject out of hand any book with a recipe that calls for canned cream of mushroom soup. Even books that advertise themselves as working with fresh cuisine usually just mean they’re working with one ingredient from the farmer’s market supplemented by a lot of industrial food. Emeril Lagasse’s Farm to Fork cookbook was just what I was looking for. I made three recipes out of that book the day I bought it. The thing I love about … Continue reading

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

The next book I read after Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma was Barbara Kingsolver’s gentle autobiography Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, A Year of Food Life. Kingsolver is a novelist who moved her family (herself, husband, and two daughters) to an Appalachian farm. A year after moving the family converted to a local foodshed diet. “Our plan was to spend one whole year in genuine acquaintance with our food sources,” she said. “If something in our diets came from outside our county or state, we’d need an extraordinary reason to buy it.” I love Barbara’s stories. Her family launched their year of local food in April, the month the local farmer’s market started up for the season. Buying local meant learning to make the kitchen the center of family life. “Once you start cooking, one thing leads to another,” she said. Her fearless experimentation has encouraged me to experiment in the kitchen too. … Continue reading

Alice Waters

When I first brought my family’s food processing into my own kitchen I had no idea how to do it. It wasn’t that I had never learned to cook – as a newlywed I worked my way straight through Joy of Cooking and taught myself how to put a meal on the table. But making your own food requires more than just knowing how to read a recipe. It’s an approach, a process, a lifestyle. The way I’d been cooking my whole life was to pick a recipe, list the ingredients, and go to the grocery store and buy them. Letting the ingredients dictate the menu was a completely different way of looking at food. What I needed was to understand how cooking processes worked. That’s what Alice Water’s cookbook The Art of Simple Food promised to teach me. The plain yellow and orange cover attracted me immediately, and the … Continue reading

Michael Pollan changed my life

A couple of years ago I was at a business lunch and noticed one of the guys I work with was eating a salad, just like I was. I asked him why, and he said he’d reformed his diet after reading Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. So the next time I was in an airport without a book I picked up a copy. An airplane ride later the way I look at food had changed permanently. Pollan traced the food chains which delivered to him a McDonald’s hamburger, grass-fed chicken, and a meal he foraged for himself. He had written other books, but it was Omnivore’s Dilemma that everyone seemed to be reading at once, that introduced many people in my orbit to the conditions of the animal farms called CAFOs, and terms like industrial organic and supermarket pastoral. He made clear the consequences of a food system based … Continue reading