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Nobody Does It Better. A Great New Cookbook
on November 13, 2005
Years ago I stopped collecting cookbooks and gave most of them away. Except for Mark Bittman.
This book is AWESOME. This man got is all right. The book is uniquely creative, wonderfully conceived, and easily approachable. There is no food snobbery here. The joy of this book, as with Mr. Bittmans columns and his great book "How To Cook Everything" is that it is specifically designed for the home chef. It is for we who really enjoy producing first rate food without being bent out of shape by finding totally esoteric and hard to find ingredients. By the standards set forth in this book it is okay if you want a first rate kitchen and do not own a truffle shaver. Or a caviar chiller. Or a personal killer wine cellar. Or the budget of the former Shah of Iran. But you do have the will to create and experience great food.
There are so many things to commend this book: The description that precedes each recipe is invaluable. The recipes themselves are absolutely wonderful. The well thought out and carefully constructed list of basic and more unusual ingredients for the shelf of the home cook is perfectly constructed with sense and with an organization that gives the cook a real understanding of ingredients used in the recipes. From garam masala to Thai Fish Sauce to fresh and dried herbs and spices, all is explained and de-mystified. And the organization of recipes is unusual and well thought out since they are placed within a category according to the method of cooking (IE Braising, roasting, grilling, et al.)
Not least in the lexicon of commendations to this huge collection is that we are introduced to foods that are not common to the American home cook, the book is heavily laced with mid and far eastern cuisine, as well as the more familiar French and Italian and other ethnic foods, and thus our repertoire of that which we prepare expands with flavors that are just terrific. Mr. Bittman is also an author with a gift for writing clearly and in a self effacing style that belies his great culinary knowledge and talent. I am never intimidated by his recipes. I am always inspired.
Cookbooks just do not get any better than this.