okay it's (kayo) Tue 23 Mar 10 10:09
I haven't had a chance to get the book, since I'm stuck in the house with a broken ankle and I make a point of buying books from my local bookstore rather than Amazon. So I just took a look on google books and I see that the picture of the guy with his bathrobe open showing lots of bottles and stuff is a reference to his delightful piece on his website where he is doing the same thing but with his small canvases on the inside of the robe -- both made me laugh.
okay it's (kayo) Tue 23 Mar 10 10:15
OK, now I'm shocked. The whole book appears to be on google. This is the first time I've run across this. Well, I am enjoying it and still plan to add the hard copy to my cookbook collection.
Julie Sherman (julieswn) Tue 23 Mar 10 11:10
I love the recipes in this book partly because a lot of them mimic my cooking process, but mostly because they are great recipes for meals that would fit my life. However your comments about the gender differences in the illustrations brought up some things in the book that bothered me. What I had some problems with was what read to me as sexism and racial assumptions. I know that there can be differences between the way men and women behave, eat, etc. But I had a hard time with the constant comments that seemed to differentiate how the informants based mostly on their gender. The other thing that I found jarring was that there is one mention in the book about an informant who is African-American, otherwise there are no racial distinctions (though there are some culutural and ethnic identifiers that are mentioned). That made me feel, as a reader, a bit uncomfortable. It was as if it was a conversation between caucasion people only, like an us and them style. THis bothered me to the point that I found myself skimming the chapters and going directly to the recipes.
Kathy (kathbran) Tue 23 Mar 10 13:41
What Julie describes struck me, as well, though I did read the rest of the book. I wonder if it occurred because the people Deborah interviewed were all friends in the food business not selected for diversity. I would imagine chefs and food critics whose backgrounds were, say, Asian or Middle Eastern would have other comfort foods, and I would like to have heard from them, too.
Deborah Madison (leafygreens) Tue 23 Mar 10 17:27
Good points, both Julie and Kathbran. We didn't set out to cover everyone and all possible races and ethnicities. That would be a big project and certainly an interesting and more serious book. (Maybe someone else would like to do that.) We reached beyond our friends and the food world quite often,but didn't travel to do so. I might mention that I live in a mostly Hispanic/Anglo community with very few African Americans and Asians. They are in the book (and in the video on my web-site) but not identified by race but simply as people, and they are that, too. And I believe there is at least one very Middle Eastern man who makes a wonderful meal of "koftes". In terms of differences, we looked more at age and the periods in one's life. As for sexism - I have to say that yes, there are some jabs at men, written mostly by a man, my husband. But if you read the book you know that it's the men who shine and the women are in fact capable of ripping apart a chicken over the sink and that sort of thing.As we say in the intro, despite what look like gender-related tendencies there are always the exceptions that make you wonder. The book is glib. It's not a sociological study nor was it meant to be. It was more, let's look at our world and see what we see. Yes, there were some people from my world of food, but many who weren't. And those who are chefs and writers and all of that, when faced with this question, largely stepped outside the world in which they were labeled as food people. On their own, they're eaters.
(fom) Tue 23 Mar 10 17:59
>We didn't set out to cover everyone and all possible races and ethnicities. That would be a big project and certainly an interesting and more serious book. No one said anything about covering all races and ethnicities. That's a straw man.
David Gans (tnf) Tue 23 Mar 10 18:51
I think Deborah's explanation is sufficient. The book is a survey of people known to the authors, for the most part, with no intention (nor necessity) of being comprehensive or exhaustive.
(fom) Tue 23 Mar 10 19:27
Of course, but no one said it should be comprehensive or exhaustive. They just pointed something out. At least, that is how I read the posts.
Julie Sherman (julieswn) Tue 23 Mar 10 21:22
Back to the cooking and eating--I love to cook and I live alone. If I did not cook interesting meals for myself, I would not get to try out lots of things and my large cookbook collection would go mostly unused. I also love having leftovers. Right now in my refrigerator is leftover dahl, leftover rice, and tonight I finished the sweet/sour pork and cabbage over the last of the cooked pasta. I love having a full pantry (though, for me, that means an extra couple of shelves) with all sorts of things that can be made into an interesting meal.
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Wed 24 Mar 10 00:02
My pantry is definitely oversized for one person, and I feel guilty that I don't make enough use of it lately--too many suppers of steamed asparagus, chocolate and cheese (not necessarily in that order). Fortunately, lunches are in better shape, but the freezer is running low and it's time to make a couple of big pots of soup again. So....I've been browsing through several of your earlier books to decide what to fill the freezer with (very few of my jaunts into my cookbook collection can ever stop with just one book), and now I'm wondering how it felt to write a book based on other people's recipes, especially such personal recipes as these. I've had a lot of friends--mostly those who don't cook much--tell me I should 'write a cookbook', but I've never even felt tempted, because I know that I don't have enough recipes that I've developed myself to fill more than a small pamphlet, and I certainly can't think of any theme that I could be disciplined enough to pursue sufficiently to create enough new recipes to fill out a book. Was it easier to prepare and present these recipes than for your earlier books? Does it feel differently when you have less 'ownership' over the recipes?
Deborah Madison (leafygreens) Wed 24 Mar 10 06:21
It feels great! When you write a cookbook you have to come to it with a certain point of view it's all soups, or it's vegetarian, or easy or whatever. Essentially, a cookbook is recipe driven. "What We Eat" was not recipe driven, we didn't see it as a cookbook, and it didn't have a point of view vis a vis recipes except that they were derived from individual's approaches to eating alone. It was hugely liberating for me to take an idea and work with it to make a recipe that could be used by others. Some of them happened to dovetail very nicely to dishes I happen to make, but many didn't and it was fun to go places I hadn't been to before.
David Gans (tnf) Wed 24 Mar 10 09:14
Yeah, when I picked the book up in the bookstore it seemed more like a sort of oral history than a recipe book per se.
David Gans (tnf) Wed 24 Mar 10 09:23
I bought the book at Mrs. Dalloway's in Berkeley after hearing Michael Wild speak. (We already own the Bay Wolf cookbook.) Michael said he didn't much care for recipes - they make cooking too much like a science project, he said. In baking, he added, the quantities need to be fairly precise; but when he presents a new dish to his staff it's usually in the form of a paragraph or so listing the ingredients. He might even have said it was a sort of story rather than a formula. I suppose it may be different when you're presenting a menu item to the professionals in one of California's best restaurants, but it made me (decidedly NOT one who cooks) wonder about the nature of recpie development and writing. Where do you stand on this question of style?
the secret agenda of rabbits (cjp) Wed 24 Mar 10 11:21
Another question I had for you, Deborah, is that all of your books have been vegetarian, haven't they? And yet you're not a complete vegetarian. Are you planning any meaty books in the near future?
Deborah Madison (leafygreens) Wed 24 Mar 10 11:46
David - I'm not wild for recipes either. I prefer more gestural "recipes" that point towards something rather than trying to lay out every possible contingency, because you can never really lay it all out. On the other hand, I started Greens with kitchen crew who didn't know how to hold a knife, let alone cook, so I had to spend a lot of time teaching and explaining and learning to see cooking from their point of view. I very much want people to learn to cook and enjoy it so if it takes writing a recipe that considers the pitfalls and grey areas I'm happy to do it. I try to find a middle way between offering an idea and setting out every detail. All recipes contain a lot of possibilities for deviation that can make them more interesting or allow one to use another ingredient, etc. I love to get into that aspect so that people don't feel bound. But a lot of new cooks want to feel bound to a method or an amount or an ingredient because they feel safe and it helps them get started. And I have to add, when I pick up a book about a cuisine that is really unfamiliar to me, I want detail, too. At least for starters.
Deborah Madison (leafygreens) Wed 24 Mar 10 12:00
Rabbit Lady - Many years ago I threatened to write the all beef cookbook because I was so tired of the vegetarian label and being asked if I got enough protein instead of being asked about other things that seemed more important. But I probably wouldn't write a meat-based book because it's not really my passion and I don't have a very intuitive feel towards cooking most meats. This I happily leave to others. But who knows, I might have a reason to include some meat recipes in the future, that is if I write any more cookbooks. No plans, but I wouldn't rule the possibility completely. By the way, there are eleven non-vegetarian recipes in "Local Flavors" because that book was about farmers markets and meat plays an increasingly important role there. But otherwise, yes, all my books are heavily vegetable-centric.
David Gans (tnf) Wed 24 Mar 10 12:05
> All recipes contain a lot of possibilities for deviation that can make them > more interesting or allow one to use another ingredient, etc. My wife's cookbooks and binders of Epicurious printouts are festooned with notes, amendments, and comments. I am fortunate to be married to such a brilliant and creative woman!
Deborah Madison (leafygreens) Wed 24 Mar 10 12:59
You are, indeed, And how nice that you appreciate her! I love to come across cookbooks that are covered with their owner's comments. Shows that more than the book has been used.
Eric Gower (gower) Wed 24 Mar 10 13:21
I just want to pay homage to Deborah's pioneerdom for a sec. In the early 80s, when I was in my late teens/early 20s, I was not alone in having three or four cooking bibles: Greens, Moosewood, and the Tassajara books. I think I cooked every recipe in all those books multiple times, many dozens of times, and, for a few, hundreds of times. These books -- and especially ones Deborah had a hand in writing -- completely changed my life. Whenever I got compliments on my cooking, I often said that, while I'm pretty good at following written instructions, it's Deborah Madison you're really complimenting. Alice Waters gets way more than her share of credit for waking up Americans to the beauty of simply prepared, very fresh foods, but the zen folks did way, way more for home cooks. It was like getting an advanced degree in home cooking. So thank you, Deborah! But back on topic: It's remarkable what happens to Delia when she's on her own for lunch or dinner. Something in her brain just switches into Dutch mode, and she breaks out: old gouda young gouda buttered bread the cheese slicer bread board to eat on Every. Single. Time!
David Gans (tnf) Wed 24 Mar 10 15:04
You say that like it's a bad thing!
Deborah Madison (leafygreens) Wed 24 Mar 10 15:18
That sounds like a great lunch. I love the repetition of it. My version is the quesadilla. Or was. I had to give it up in favor of salad, unfortunately. Eric, thank you for your kind words, your generous comments. Oddly, the Greens Cookbook was so restaurant based and California centered that when I came back from touring the country and finding there was pretty much nothing to eat in the produce department, and that people actually had families and were busy, I became focused on the home cook and have been ever since. But then you live in the Bay Area. (Try Flagstaff! That's where I went after San Francisco, Berkeley, and Rome. That really turned me around!)
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Wed 24 Mar 10 19:33
The stocks section of the original Greens Cookbook is most indispensable to me, because I learned making meat stocks by osmosis at home and had no idea that vegetables alone could be used to make a stock. I too leave most of the meat cooking to others, and am continually surprised when friends and colleagues assume that I am vegetarian simply because my home-made lunches never include a large slab of meat. But over the course of a year, I probably make & can just as much meat stock as vegetable stock. Most of that goes into soups and stews and beans and grain dishes that are otherwise nearly meatless. So I come to work with lunch sack full of my soups and stews and beans, not one of which ever contains tofu, and despite eating lunch together on average 3-4 days a week for 2 and a half years, despite the occasional lunchtime meal at local restaurants where I share the chicken stir fry or pork sate, and mentions of the occasional bacon or the frequent salami eaten at home, when I was invited over to my boss's house for a Christmas Eve raclette dinner, there were tofurkey sausage slices just for me.
David Gans (tnf) Wed 24 Mar 10 20:23
Better to be mistaken for a vegetarian than to be one and have people attempting to force meat on you.
the secret agenda of rabbits (cjp) Wed 24 Mar 10 20:27
That's true. But still, that's hysterical! I have to echo Eric there, as Deborah taught me how to cook vegetarian at a time when most such cookbooks were printed on rough brown paper and contained inedible recipes. (I remember one whole wheat bar cookie so virulently flavored with rosemary and honey and wheat germ that even the dog wouldn't touch it.) The Greens cookbook changed my life and made my vegetarian meals actually yummy. For one thing, it offered seasonal menus, which was pretty revolutionary back then, and there were recipes for things I'd never eaten until I made them myself for the first time, like frittatas, white bean soup, grilled tofu, and that infamous cheese and nut loaf! Ingredients back in the late '80s were a lot more limited, if you can remember back that far. But this was the book I turned to when I wanted to know what to do with things like escarole and ancho chilies. The Savory Way is terrific, too, and has a great Southwestern accent that translates well into meatless dishes. I have half a shelf of Deborah's books, and they've all served me well. I could rhapsodize about just her Soups and Suppers books for hours. (Just a quick thank you for the fideos recipe in Suppers. Boy, is it good.) But I have to ask you, Deborah, what are the "poison eggs" that you mention on page 60, and why do they have that weird name?
Deborah Madison (leafygreens) Thu 25 Mar 10 05:33
Oh, yes the Poison Eggs. One of the people we interviewed, Dan, is a very robust, passionate, and wild cook. Tapenade and chipotle chile line the base of his personal food pyramid, and Poison Eggs is one of his dishes. It consists of poach-fried eggs rolled in a tortilla that's first covered with tapenade. Chipotle chile and cheese go over the eggs, then lots of pico di gallo, freshly made of course. Oh yes, bacon might be there, too. It's big and messy and hot and spicy. It drips.It sears. It makes your eyes water. Why poison eggs? That's just Dan's way of saying these are really bad, as in really good. Thank you for those words about "The Savory Way." I like that book, too. I wrote it when I was living in Flagstaff and trying to figure out how to eat well in a place like that, which was no small matter. (It's much better there today.) I taught cooking classes in my home to people who had never heard of Chez Panisse much less Greens. It was a challenge, but I learned a lot. In the end,though, I had to go where there was at least a farmers market.
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