Monday, October 17, 2011


I'm disheartened by the latest crop of cookbooks trickling out over the course of the last, oh, ever. What is it with this trend for oversimplification of cooking? On the one hand, I get it: you want to make cooking accessible to people who didn't grow up in a kitchen-centric culture. I'm totally down with books that teach budding cooks the basics, and help to get folks off on the right foot as they learn that making things from scratch really doesn't have to be intimidating.

For someone like me, though, who has the basics and then some well under my belt, it's frustrating not being able to find "authentic" recipes. I say that with a grain of salt because the word itself is so loaded with falsehoods, but let me phrase it this way: if I want to learn how to make, say, coq au vin and I've never made it before, I don't want 'Sally Smith's Easy Four-Ingredient Coq au Vin! Now, Simplified for the American Cook!' No. BOO. Those recipes are a dime a dozen. And yes, they can be useful if you want something like the "real" recipe, but don't have the time/ingredients on hand.

What I guess I wish more cookbooks did, though I know this would be prohibitively expensive/probably unprofitable from a publishing POV: provide the "real" from-scratch recipe, then a "quickie" version.

Or just, you know. Give me a few versions of the "authentic" recipe, and somewhere between them I'll come close to the essence of what the recipe's all about, and then I can choose how and when to take shortcuts.

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