tamar adler’s book An Everlasting Meal: Cooking With Economy and Grace is inching its way up to the top of my favorite’s list. i love a book that uses language like this:
“Our daily bread” means food. It is also called the staff of life, which I like: bread there, all life leaning against it. Our lives don’t lean against it anymore: we’ve decided that bread is bad for us. Our staff has broken, and that is part of why our diets seem so hard to get in balance. p79
Stale bread cannot be bought. It must be waited for, which gives all dishes containing it the weight of philosophical ballast, as well as dietary and budgetary ones. p85
Salt is food’s mouthpiece. Acid also helps food find its voice. p192
i was a bit skeptical about her style the first few pages in, but i soon recognized it as endearing and honest. she talks about the simplest of things: boiling, bread, eggs, beans, underappreciated veggies. and it’s the ideas i’ve taken away from this book more than the recipes she includes (which seem wonderful, too).
the cooking with grace part comes through naturally in her style of writing. i can see how she would be graceful in the kitchen, but it is not pretentious. she is quick to admit her kitchen faults and failures.
and as for the economy of her cooking style, it definitely is. she saves everything: onion skins, bean broth, the oil from sauteing anything and everything. her ideas for leftovers, especially rice, make me want to keep a pot of old rice in the fridge. there are so many ideas and suggestions she gives that sound delicious, simple, and, perhaps best of all, cheap. i’ve read few books that i know will help lower the grocery bill and this one does so without setting out as that being its main goal.
she’s gotten me looking at the kitchen and cooking differently. she’s gotten me looking at leftovers differently and more economical cuts of meat differently. and she’s given me courage to think that perhaps i can find something interesting and edible to do with huge bag of csa turnips in the fridge.