3/30/2006

A cookbook review


I am a big Nigella Lawson fan. Not only is she a great writer, with lovely ancedotal recipes but she's pretty to boot. Obviously she has not gotten super fat on her own cooking. I also like her rather spur of the moment approach to cooking, as it so closely resembles my own; that unless I'm making an effort to cook a specific item I tend to bend the recipies I find around what happens to be in the fridge at the time and that in any recipie the more fat and butter the better it will taste, hands down (can you tell that I'm not fond of low-fat?). So I'm very pleased that yesterday my very own copy of Feast came in the mail. Purchased from a used seller on amazon for $10, I'm pleased that it arrived in even better condition than described - I'd swear that this book is new.
Early purusal of the contents and pictures has come up with some very exciting things so far; a ham cooked in cherry coke, the proper way to roast a turkey, goose or pork loin, an indian feast - with a recipie for chicken that looks, at first glance, rather similar to one sold in a certain restaurant in the Mission, Christmas pudding and pavlovas, and slime soup for Halloween. I love the photography, just the right amount for a cookbook; not so much that one gets stuck with the way things are 'supposed' to turn out, but enough to wet ones appetite. The writing is rather editorial, which personally I like but I know not everyone does. Nigella comments on all manner of things; from the importance of the stability of Thanksgiving and Christmas culinary traditions to the intense pleasure of homemade hamburgers. My one tiny, little hangup is the paper quality; I like a cookbook to have a heavy, archival sort of feel and this is a little thin, but no biggie.

Its also very interesting to read about anglo-saxon holiday traditions from the perspective of a British cook. English cuisine developed quite a bit in the later half of the 20th Century in my opinion with the integration of the immigrant cuisines from places like africa and india. And this is definately reflected in this book (This idea thrills me, I think that I could write an essay on the influence of colonization and immigration on the cuisine of the Parent country). Also for most of America, or perhaps just my own fairly bland catholic/protestant, anonymous white family, the traditional food of Christmas is just a shallower repeat of the food of Thanksgiving with a little more nutmeg. Not so for the British, with their Christmas plum pudding, Mince pies and goose. They have individual christmas recipies. A fact that I find very exciting.

In any case all theorizing aside, I've been looking for a long time for a cookbook that would allow me to forge my own holiday traditions; to accent the mush that I've made in my head of the childhood holidays spent around the tables of my Mother and Grandmothers, and more recently that of my in-laws. I think that this one will be perfect, I look forward to the next excuse to cook a feast.

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