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A fine workmanlike cooking guide to simple, hearty meals
on May 6, 2014
The "family" referred to in the title of this book is not your own family, but the "family" of 75 or so people who worked at the elBulli restaurant in Spain. Now closed, elBulli was for years regarded as the finest restaurant in the world, but one should not assume that this cookbook by its chef represents the highest art of cooking.
It instead offers recipes for the three-course simple, hearty, and often-inspirational meals that the "family" at elBulli served to themselves during their working day. Each recipe is scaled to serve from 2-6-20-75 people, ingredients lists are short, and preparation is usually easy. Your own family certainly won't be disappointed, and you may find ideas you haven't tried before. For example, a soft-boiled egg in the center of a soup plate with vichyssoise ladled around it, or a potato-chip omelet, or watermelon with menthol candies.
The book includes elementary advice about ingredients and tools and a well-stocked larder which may be useful to less-experienced cooks. It is very thoroughly illustrated with thousands of step-by-step pictures but they are not obsessively-lit perfect studio shots, simply perfectly-workmanlike and clear illustrations of the process. In some ways, this workmanlike book is the antithesis of what one might expect from "the finest chef in the world". Yet as a practical guide to quickly preparing interesting and delicious hearty meals, I'm glad to add it to my well-stocked cookbook library.
As a bonus, it's published by Phaidon which as usual offers exceptionally good-quality binding, paper, and other production characteristics. This is a book with which you'll create some favorite family meals, and eventually pass along to your children as they start their own families.