After observing a stranger's grocery cart packed with processed, ready-to-eat foods, Seattle's Kathleen Flinn (a graduate of Paris's Le Cordon Bleu) became concerned. And with good reason: since World War II, home cooks have grown dependent on the food industry's offerings of "convenience" foods, thus decreasing familiarity with whole foods and the techniques and utensils needed to prepare them. Furthermore, food television has turned cooking into a spectator sport, drawing people out of the kitchen and towards the couch.
But what to do about this trend? When Flinn happened upon an episode of TV's "What Not to Wear," she decided to adapt the premise and recruit a group of struggling home cooks, observe their kitchens and meal preparations, offer hands-on instruction and coaching and re-observe. This book documents her project and teaches many valuable lessons: how to stock a pantry; how to hold and use a knife; how to taste, including comparative tastings and suggested seasonings; how to bake simple bread and prepare eggs, whole chickens, fish and meats. Flinn writes fluently and accessibly, employing both humour and helpful instructions.
Though a couple of the book's chapters seem self-indulgent and irrelevant (like when she describes a teaching stint on a cruise ship), Flinn proves a supportive, entertaining and informative teacher. Ultimately, she inspires a respect for food, the true starting point to healthier living.