Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Alice Waters: The Earnest Assessment

Judged strictly on the deliciousness of the recipes, this is by far the best book I've cooked from since I started Tipsy Baker. 

When I began the Alice Waters project I had planned to cook from all of her books, and so I did. But the title I ended up gravitating to was The Art of Simple Food. It's the only book from her oeuvre that is truly geared toward the home cook. Instead of pigeons, beef cheeks, and purslane, the recipes call for ingredients -- eggs, chicken, spinach -- that anyone can find in the local grocery story. You don't need a mandoline, propane torch or wood-burning oven. You don't need a sous chef.

The writing is tone-deaf. You won't stay up nights reading this book for its wit or graceful prose. But if you are looking for straightforward, excellent recipes (try the cream biscuits, the cornbread, the apple tart, the Caesar salad, the Bolognese sauce, the meatballs, the steamed sole. . .) you will never be disappointed.

 I mean that quite literally: Never.

Based on the forty recipes I tried, here's my breakdown:

Worth the Price of the Book: 10 (!!!)
Great: 15
Good: 12
So-So: 3
Flat-out bad: 0

Pretty amazing if you compare it to some of my past experiments. And pretty amazing given that I started this project with a major grudge against Alice Waters.

Tomorrow: Arabesque by Claudia Roden. 


  1. OK, but what are the 10 "worth the price of the book" recipes? Do tell.

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