Thursday, February 18, 2010

Books:Home Cooking

This is one of my favorite books of all time, full-stop: funny, entertaining, and extremely approachable. While I don't imagine you need to enjoy cooking to love essays like "Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant," or "Repulsive Dinners: A Memoir", Colwin makes cooking seem easier, more fun and more attainable than any food writer I've encountered. Part of this is because her recipes are notoriously sketchy - lots of "flinging" and "handfuls" and "whenever you get around to it"s - and in any event, are very much to her, ahem, idiosyncratic tastes. (I speak as the unhappy maker of a succotash that she described as "hands down, one of the best things I have ever cooked.") But that's also the appeal: Colwin loves food and, while her kitchen is more eccentric than most, this is indeed "home" cooking - and great writing. The follow-up, it must be said, I like a bit less: while still eminently necessary, it's somehow less humorful, more polemical, and, although it actually has more recipes I've made with success, I reach for it far less frequently as something to read while I eat. Home Cooking, on the other hand, is almost translucent with olive oil. That, I think, just goes to show.

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