early ramble

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When I came in this morning I had an Edutopia email newsletter. I love plugging Edutopia, and especially enjoy their videos. This newsletter contained a link to an article on Alice Waters called Learning Curves, ...Alice Waters' appearance on the Julia Child Master Chef series... I could get lost in this stuff which contained side links to videos on The Edible Schoolyard and a series of five video snips from Alice Waters' appearance on the Julia Child Master Chef series. I could get lost in this stuff. Alice Waters as a teacher? Wow! Her personality comes off a bit too sweet and precious next to Child but her food looks fantastic. Hand chopped tapenade, shaved fennel and raw mushroom salad with a touch of Meyer lemon... ya' know, if you want to eat like this, you have to do it yourself.

Recently, we've talked about Keller's book The French Laundry. Now I can also confess my affection for Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyard website (never moved to read her books), and another book that I usually recommend as a cookbook, though it isn't a recipe book at all: Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Mcgee tells you why Hollandaise works, why meat browns, what sugar does in cakes. This is indespensible stuff for people who want to cook without tediously following recipes. For people who want to do it themselves.


dave said:

I mentioned not being moved to read one of Alice Waters' cookbooks. I feel like that needs a bit of explanation...

Collections of recipes rarely move me. Occasionally I may find a combination of ingredients takes me by surprise, or a technique is contrary to what I might instinctively do and therein teaches me something fantastic, but for the most part I see it as paint by numbers. Eating good food inspires me. Seeing other-culture's methods and ingredients intrigues me. Walking through a well stocked grocery or farmer's market really peaks my creative cooking energy. Reading recipes though? I usually taste it in my head and move on.

What I love about Waters, I guess, is Alice. I'd love to cook with her, dine with her, talk with her. I'd love to hear her speak to educators and nutritionists. I think the spirit of her "recipes" though is that you should use what's available, what's fresh, and prepare it with respect. Her recipes, like most now that I think about it, are just records of the way someone prepared something once.

...but I really should put something like Chez Panisse Vegetables on my book list.

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