|I think extreme close-up photos of food will become my trademark.|
Have I turned on the book? Not at all.
But then I've never said Gabrielle Hamilton was pleasant. She's not. She's impossible. One minute she's dictatorial and highly specific ("6 Forelle pears, 1 day short of perfectly ripe") without explaining why or offering alternatives. The next, she is oddly vague, assuming you know what she means by "a rather generous hunk" of salted French butter for dressing the cold tomatoes. Is that two tablespoons? Four? Six? Well, yes, you can make a good guess and things will work out fine. It's the casual imperiousness of it all that bugs me. Her voice is crisp, super-smart and and original, but also snippy, scolding, and verging on contemptuous. I love it. I also hate it. I think she's brilliant and a total bitch.
Random House sent me a copy of Ruth Reichl's new My Kitchen Year and if she is brilliant, that brilliance does not show itself in this cookbook/memoir, which is warm, genial, confiding, and familiar. Reichl writes: "To me, recipes are conversations, not lectures; they are a beginning, not an end. I hope you'll add a bit more of this, a little less of that, perhaps introduce new spices or different herbs. What I really want is for my recipes to become your own."
You will never hear Gabrielle Hamilton say something like that.
Prune is a more interesting, visionary cookbook by far -- and I'm not done with it. But the spinach-ricotta gnocchi and applesauce cake I served for dinner last night from My Kitchen Year were lovely, and cooking from Reichl's recipes was restful. More on both books coming soon.