Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The uninteresting life of a late adopter

bad old peeler and wonderful new one
I haven't been cooking anything interesting lately for various uninteresting reasons, but tomorrow I'll be able to throw myself back into it.

The salmon salad from Sunday Suppers at Lucques was the last straw for me with Suzanne Goin as it required 10 separate cooking/holding vessels. It’s a delicious, opulent salad of beets, tiny potatoes, and roasted salmon atop dandelion greens dressed in a mustardy vinaigrette. While the beets quickly bled into the salmon (ugly), that didn’t matter because I was the only one who ate this salad. I ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a couple of days and was very happy until I was suddenly so sick of it I had to throw it to the chickens. Depressing, given the cost of salmon, but I couldn't force down another bite. 

My complaint about the dish is my overarching complaint about Goin's books: Too many steps, too many dishes to wash. I like Suzanne Goin, I like her cookbooks, and next time I go to Los Angeles will try to eat at one of her restaurants, but I just can’t cook like this. Tomorrow or the next day we’ll see what Tad Friend has to say about The A.O.C. Cookbook vs. Roberta’s over at the Piglet. I wait with bated breath.

Ok, about  the Piglet. So homogenized this year! I’m going to swim agains the current and say that while I rolled my eyes at the time, I sort of miss those weird wild card judgments of Piglets past. Eccentric, half-assed verdicts like Roz Chast’s. These bizarre write-ups added spice. They got my dander up. Rather than telling people to write balanced reviews informed by conscientious recipe testing, it seemed like the Piglet organizers just sent the books out to a bunch of creative people and let them respond however they chose. While the results were sometimes lame, they were also very genuine and oddly illuminating. I learned a lot from Roz Chast’s review. I got a glimpse of how many ordinary people approach cookbooks, which is to say, they don't really give a damn. And while I didn’t love Alice Waters’ nose-holding verdict, she was using her own personal yardstick, not following a template. The Piglet organizers have clearly raised their standards and I, for one, find that I am a little sorry. 

My two favorite reviews ever:  Nora Ephron’s and Gabrielle Hamilton’s

Still waiting for the Benton’s bacon so I can’t start Momofuku. What should I do in the meantime?

31 comments:

  1. Watch Mind Of A Chef on Netflix. It's all about the chef/owner of Momofuku and it's first episode is dedicated to Roman. Episodes are short and sweet and (thankfully) Anthony Bourdains role is minimal.

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  2. That would be romen noodles, not roman.

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  3. Wow, grater holes on the peeler handle?! I admire the attempt to make it a multi-use tool, but that's an accident waiting to happen.

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    Replies
    1. It is a horrible peeler. I had no idea the technology had improved. I think it was my grandmother's.

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  4. Make those 10 things that Mark asked for, then you are square! Maybe cooking those boring things would renew your sense of kitchen adventure.

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    1. I realized, after making the list, that I often do make the things Mark & kids like, but it's a pretty narrow list. Pasta, pasta, and meat. We end up having pasta 2x a week, but it's too boring to write about.

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  5. How about Seven Fires? Ephron's review was very entertaining.

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    Replies
    1. Wasn't that a great review? The book is on the list.

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  6. you can simultaneously peel carrots and shave down your calluses, neat! You probably deserve a few nights off until Momofuku....I wish you could come eat eggplant fries with me :)

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    Replies
    1. Please explain to me in detail how to make eggplant fires. Please.

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    2. Mmm. Eggplant fries. I'm going to ask about this.

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  7. I've decided that Sunday Suppers is strictly weekend cooking. I don't have the time during the week to even read the recipes let alone prepare them. Thanks for pointing me towards Nora and Gabrielle's reviews. I really enjoyed reading them. I was surprised Gabrielle selected Plenty. While I certainly understand her reasoning, in the end I like recipes that work.

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    Replies
    1. Her choice of Plenty was mighty controversial.

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  8. How about Model Bakery or the other book you got for Xmas? Do you have Isa Does It? My mom sent it to me for my birthday but I haven't gotten around to experimenting yet. It's a lovely book though! I enjoyed the Nora Ephron review There was an article by Liz Smith in a recent issue of Saveur about Nora Ephron (and her passion for life). Such an amazing woman. Has Benton's contacted you about your bacon? Do you have to wait for the fall slaughter? Fishy that they would charge your card...

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    1. Isa Does It? I have not heard of it. I'll look it up. Nora Ephron was amazing. Did you read her "novel" Heartburn? She had such flair and wit. Benton's has not contacted me, I don't think they're very efficient or businesslike, which is about what I'd expect from great bacon makers. I'll give them another 10 days.

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    2. I read it once in my twenties when I had snuck in to my mom's to do laundry. I remember it made me sad. I checked it out of my library yesterday to see if twenty years put the book in a different light. I just walked around sad all night. Carl Bernstein... What a schmuck. Is the movie any good? Something tells me David Chang isn't waiting on his bacon delivery. Ha!

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  9. I've almost finished tinybeautifulthings since I read your review 18 minute reviews. I feel myself becoming kinder and more generous by the moment. Go make those 10 things your family loves while you are waiting for the bacon. My husband says the same thing. Sometimes the family just needs a break, and we as cooks need touchstones. I know, I know - so many recipes, so little time!

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    1. I am shocked that anyone read those reviews! I tried to start doing them again, just so I'd have a record for myself, but failed after the first one in 2014. I need to read that book again.

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  10. I too love the Piglet. Except I've just realized that I look forward to your posts about the Piglet much more than the event itself. I remember being so fussy about Mario Batali's methods for selecting the winner a few years ago, yet I'm days behind on the judgements this year and am in no rush to catch up.

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  11. King's books are those that are "a challenge" to bring to the screens. the mini series of The Stand was good, because they had a chance to cover a great deal of the plot lines.

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