Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Cuisine of California: The Earnest Summation

Before finishing last month's fling with The Cuisine of California by Diane Rossen Worthington (see left, attired in Nancy Reagan red) I lost my copy of the book. I found it this morning amid the wreckage of our house, and decided to do a quick summation.

I cooked 19 recipes from this book. 

Flat out bad: 3
So-so: 6
Good: 8
Great: 2
Worth the price of the book: 0

Clearly, this is the straggler in my cookbook project so far.

Written in the early 1980s, Cuisine of California is not an awful cookbook, but a pedestrian one. No, not pedestrian -- it's better than that. Worthington is a graduate of the Cordon Bleu and her book reads (and cooks) like the ambitious thesis of an apple-polishing student. Just as she projects little more than slick professionalism in that snapshot, she successfully suppresses her personality in both headnotes and recipes. Which is a pity, as personality is what I look for in a cookbook. 

Then there's the problem with the book's name. What Worthington writes about is not California cuisine as we understand it in 2008. It is the cuisine of the Reagan '80s, characterized by gallons of heavy cream, fat filets of expensive fish, and kiwi fruit.

Fun to visit. Wouldn't want to live there.


  1. good news about the alaska cookbook. multiple haddock recipes. we can have a cook off in marion. mary

  2. I love California cuisines. That's so yummy and tasty. I miss it crossword puzzle Anyone receive order?