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Beard On Food [Paperback]

James Beard , Mark Bittman
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

May 29 2012
In Beard on Food, one of America's great culinary thinkers and teachers collects his best essays, ranging from the perfect hamburger to the pleasures of oxtails, from salad dressing to Sauce Diable. The result is not just a compendium of fabulous recipes and delicious bites of writing. It's a philosophy of food-unfussy, wide-ranging, erudite, and propelled by Beard's exuberance and sense of fun.
In a series of short, charming essays, with recipes printed in a contrasting color (as they were in the beloved original edition), Beard follows his many enthusiasms, demonstrating how to make everyday foods into delicious meals. Covering meats, vegetables, fish, herbs, and kitchen tools, Beard on Food is both an invaluable reference for cooks and a delightful read for armchair enthusiasts.

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Review

"In matters of the palate James Beard is absolutely to be trusted…He is always on target."--Chicago Tribune
 
"James Beard has done more than anybody else to popularize good food in America."--New York Times
 
"Beard was an innovator, an experimenter, a missionary in bringing the gospel of good cooking to the home table."--Craig Claiborne
 
"Too much of James Beard can never be enough for me."--Gael Greene
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Often referred to as the dean of American cookery, James Beard authored dozens of books on cooking and food before his death in 1985. Today, his Greenwich Village town house is home to the James Beard Foundation, the country's preeminent performance space and center for the culinary arts.<BR><BR>Mark Bittman is a food columnist for the <I>New York Times</I> <I>Magazine </I> and an opinion columnist. He previously wrote the "Minimalist" column for the <I>New York Times </I> dining section for over 13 years. His recent books include <I>Food Matters </I> and <I>The Food Matters Cookbook. </I> He is also the author of the bestselling cookbook <I>How to Cook Everything, </I> among others.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a must-have classic June 1 2009
By bachef TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book contains lots of interesting tidbits as well as recipes. Many recipes are rather simplistic but the book is great to have on hand for a good read. I find it inspirational!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious prose.... April 18 2008
By K. Zelinski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
James Beard has been an inspiration for me since I found my first cookbook of his at a garage sale when I was a teenager. This collection of essays and recipes reminds me why. Despite being very much grounded in the time they were written (the limited availability of ingredients that he describes, the novelty of food ideas we now take for granted), Beard's love for food and his unbridled enthusiasm for sharing good eating with good friends is a joy to revisit. His visionary status is confirmed by his explanations and encouragement to his readers to try new things, explore different cultural influences, and not to lose sight of good plain delicious food. He was a true food voluptuary, and anyone who loves to cook and read about cooking should grab this book and savor every bite.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Conversation with the Master of American Cuisine Jan. 29 2001
By rodboomboom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is laid out so well in a series of articles that Beard writes on his experiences with food, chefs, and restaurants. He not only talks about the purchase, prep and cooking, but also exquisite accounts of his memories of the recipe as he ate, sometimes with others.
Especially see his ideas about grilling hamburger. So luscious, with heavy cream, onions! So good!
This volume is chock full of treasures of tidbits from the easily recognized giant of the American culinary craft.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn how to become a competent scratch cook... or chef (details) March 27 2010
By Patrick W. Crabtree - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Beard's favorite dishes are not precisely companionable with 21st Century thinking on what to eat. He was a blood sausage, fondue, and pâté man at heart. But more importantly for his devotees, he took cooking from its most elemental notions and, through clear and simple processes, built upon this essential knowledge so that we can still all benefit from his inestimable culinary skills as we create modern dishes.

This particular book is a compendium of articles written by Beard, each entry containing the details of two or three theme recipes. All these recipes are complete and easy to follow. The other half of each article encapsulates the ambiance of each dish, the event, or both.

James Beard was no Shakespeare... thankfully. His writing is robust, clear, and to the point. Obviously, the text here is conveyed in the elemental literary style of the newspaper journalist, more of a promotional how-to approach of writing and very appropriate to the purpose of the work.

I'm reviewing the Knopf/Borzoi 1974, 316-page (not including the index) hardcover edition which features a dust jacket portrait of Beard rendered by Antoinette Schulte. The book illustrations (at the outset of the chapters) were drawn by Bill Greer and Beard was additionally assisted in the text of this book by José Wilson.

Beard characterizes these dishes as "American cooking." I don't really think that this is so -- I would call it (for the most part) European cooking employing American techniques or at the least, Euro-American fusion cooking. If you understand Beard's background, you can garner a more comprehensive sense of where he comes from in the world of cooking.

Beard was an inventor and he often substituted for traditional ingredients and improvised necessary devices in the face of cooking adversity. As a youth he helped his mother cook spring shellfish at what was then the wilds of an Oregon beach on the Pacific. So he developed many of his own techniques, many of them outdoors, prior to actually encountering established professional cookery in restaurants and so many of his methods make infinite sense. It's also relevant to know that Beard was the feature chef of the very first American television cooking program.

The following semi-biographical Beard cookbook (and not all that well-known) makes a nice companion work to the book under review: James Beard's Outdoor Cooking. As a huge fan of the old Master Chef, my paperback copy of The James Beard Cookbook is now contained within a plastic zip-lock bag because it's falling to pieces from extended use. For a more philosophical biography of Beard (along with a number of great recipes) acquire a copy of The Armchair James Beard which was edited by John Ferrone. And finally, you can also visit (or join) The James Beard Foundation online to learn more about the man and his inventive culinary techniques.

If Beard's recipes are not all timely in character, they are certainly easy and they represent the sorts of dishes which will quickly build one's cooking skills. I am compelled to say that most of his desserts are very nostalgic and still quite appropriate (in addition to being delicious) for today's family and entertaining tables.

If learning to cook from scratch is a priority for you, other incredible works to consider include The Way to Cook (or Julia's magnum opus, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1), or Jacques Pépin's Fast Food My Way which is also available in DVD video format. All three of these great chefs bring their own mastery to the kitchen and yet they astonishingly complement one other at the same time.

The chapter titles of the book under review are somewhat vague and would tell you little of their actual content so I'll just say that the work includes all manner of recipes for: meat; fish and other seafoods; pastries; desserts; breads; cheese and wine; picnic food, and; holiday dishes. Further, Beard discusses presentation and serving as well as kitchen gadgetry, the latter information naturally being somewhat dated.

Highly recommended for those who entertain at home, scratch cooks, and chefs.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beard Jan. 17 2013
By George W. Mead - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although old (Beard has been long dead), the book is still fresh. Not every article was of direct interest (these were first printed in the NYT), many included recipes I will use. Especially the spaghetti sauce,
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never old Dec 22 2011
By Jennifer Stierman Edwards - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I first learned of James Beard in the early '70s when I was starting to learn to cook. I have owned this book since 1975 or so; I used to read the articles published in my hometown newspaper. There's not much "dated" about it. James Beard was never a "professional." He was a man with a terrific palate who made a living writing about good food as well as cooking it, but he was never a chef. I still cook from this book; made his quiche recipe last night (I find it still to be the best). We have to forget about what might be considered outdated. We have to remember that without him, we would not be finding arugula, or pesto, or cioppino, or tarte tatin, or pita bread, on menus in this country. He was a groundbreaker for much of what we now take for granted; and this book, with its intimate essays originally meant for newspaper publication, shows him at his idiosyncratic best. And some of those retro '70s recipes are worth rediscovering again.
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