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inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #51 of 140: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #52 of 140: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #53 of 140: 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.  
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #54 of 140: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #55 of 140: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #56 of 140: (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.
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #57 of 140: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #58 of 140: (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.
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #59 of 140: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #60 of 140: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #61 of 140: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #62 of 140: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #63 of 140: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #64 of 140: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #65 of 140: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #66 of 140: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #67 of 140: 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!
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #68 of 140: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #69 of 140: 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!
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #70 of 140: David Gans (tnf) Wed 24 Mar 10 15:04
    
You say that like it's a bad thing!
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #71 of 140: 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!)
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #72 of 140: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #73 of 140: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #74 of 140: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.379 : Deborah Madison, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
permalink #75 of 140: 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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