Thursday, June 14, 2012

Free-range cooking


I think this transition may be the thing that finally gets me reading books electronically. Not entirely – I’ve already been to the local library and reactivated my card, and I don’t anticipate giving up my habit of having a book stuffed into my bag, just in case, in favor of squinting at my newly acquired smartphone. But electronic access does come in handy; I can definitely see the value of having one e-reader in my carry-on bag, as opposed to trying to cram four books and a couple of magazines in there. It also facilitates reading in the dark (or at least the iPad does), which is handy when your partner falls asleep well before you do. And then there’s the question of getting access to certain books when you’re used to having Amazon drop stuff on your doorstep within two days and now that’s not really an option any more. Suddenly, buying Kindle editions becomes very, very tempting. Dangerous knowledge for someone who already has a bad cookbook habit and is suddenly in withdrawal from both Amazon and her collection, apart from the three cookbooks that made it into suitcases or airmail boxes sent ahead.

So it is ironic and propitious that I downloaded and started reading Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal electronically when we were at the beginning of this Great Trek. This book validates (and extends) my inclination never to throw anything edible away, and endorses my every theory about the place of leftovers in a frugal and creative kitchen, and making something delicious with a bit of this and a dash of that. A worthy successor to both M.F.K. Fisher and Laurie Colwin in the art of writing about the craft of everyday cooking (no higher praise can be forthcoming from me), Adler’s message could not be more timely for a person contemplating a stretch of living with a minimalist kitchen (to put it kindly) and no car to facilitate food shopping, to say nothing of one who is still learning to break free from recipes and, eventually – dare I say it? - stop buying cookbooks. If you’re looking to cook more with what you have, and less by any other parameters, I highly recommend reading it.

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