From Publishers Weekly
To create fantastic food you need more than a book of recipes, says Meyers."To me," she writes, "this is where cooking begins-with the intimate knowledge of one's ingredients, how to shop for them, store them and cook with them." In this marvelous reference guide, the award-winning author passes that intimate knowledge along to her readers, answering questions like "how can I tell a really fresh cabbage?" and "is it a good idea to marinate veal?" Most of the book is presented in a Q&A style, with lovely recipes interspersed throughout, but each section also begins with a mini-essay in which Meyers describes her love for food or her beliefs about cooking. In "Poultry," she explains that "chicken was a religion" in her family; every bird was bought fresh in a Barcelona market. Like Meyer's previous cookbooks (Spur of the Moment Cook; The Seasonal Kitchen), this volume emphasizes fresh seasonal cuisine and down-to-earth economy. She suggests, for example, that tomatoes be tucked under the bed to ripen and that readers eat "the beautiful, black, pearl-like seeds nestled together at [a papaya's] core." Meyers is also alert to seasonal and regional variations: carrots are sweeter in the Northwest than in the Northeast, she says; look for blood oranges from December to May. There is a fantastic final chapter on grilling. Meyers is up-front about her bias towards Italian and Spanish food, and the book does contain a few omissions. (Radishes, for example, are ignored.) But these gaps are minor in such an otherwise complete book. Inspiring for the advanced cook, invaluable for the novice, this volume will be a treasured reference guide in many kitchens. 150 recipes.
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The Seasonal Kitchen, Meyers’s first cookbook, was published in 1973, long before cooking with fresh local ingredients became a mantra for chefs and good cooks everywhere. Several titles in that same vein (e.g. From Market to Kitchen) followed. Her new book features hundreds of culinary Q&As (the questions are culled from Meyers’s workshop students), along with her favorite recipes in each category, from vegetables to fruit; also included are chapters on equipment and stocking the pantry. There is a lot of information here, and while some readers will appreciate the format, others might wish for an easier-to-use organizational style – i.e., a factual section on cooking duck rather than a series of questions, e.g., “I’d like to buy a duck breast, but I don’t know how to prepare it” and “I love to grill chicken but have never attempted duck – can it be done?” Nevertheless, Meyers is knowledgeable, and her recipes sound delicious. For most collections. (Library Journal
, May 15, 2004)