Sunday, July 10, 2011

Delicious Reading

As you may have noticed on my "Currently Reading" sidebar thingy, I'm indulging in a cookery text by Nigella Lawson (Nigella Kitchen).

I've never actually read a cookbook before, like approached it like it was a novel or something, and I suppose not every cookbook would really lend itself well to such a strategy, but this particular cookbook does.

When I finish the book (which may be a bit, because I've just started The Help and it's totally captivating, so it's taking up a bit of my reading time), I'll do a full review, but for now, I wanted to say something a bit more broadly on the topic of actually reading a cookbook.

If you're interested in really knowing about someone's approach to cooking (like a Nigella Lawson or Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart), then I would argue the best way to figure that out is to read the cookbook. The descriptions of "required" materials, the instructions on how to cook a particular dish, the introduction (if any) to recipes all tell you something about the person who has chosen or crafted the recipes you are trying to follow.

If you're a confident cook, can crack open any cookbook, follow the recipe (or maybe you don't even boher with a recipe), then maybe reading a cookbook wouldn't offer you anything, or perhaps it would offer something different. But for me, a learning cook, it's important for me to know the place these recipes are coming from. For example, you read a Martha recipe, either from a cookbook, magazine article, or off her website, and however "simple" it's supposed to be, it's far, far more complicated. With Nigella Lawson, at least so far, while some recipes might call for unusual or somewhat expensive ingredients, the recipes are simple and straightforward. (However, I still love Martha.) And to go along with those uncomplicated or complicated recipes, you have to look at the context. Is the cook describing a casual, relaxed setting along with a casual, relaxed cooking style? Or is it formal and requires a more complex attention to detail?

Regardless of the celebrity chef you pledge alligence to (if any), or the cooking style you find yourself most drawn to, reading a cookbook can be fun and give you a little insight into the culinary world.

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