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Culinary Intelligence: The Art of Eating Healthy (and Really Well) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 1, 2012
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“‘Intelligence’ is the operative word. Kaminsky tells his story with engaging, thoughtful prose—no gimmicky diets, no impossible-to-follow menu plans. He believes in gratification, not denial.”
—Barry Estabrook, The Atlantic
“Kaminsky’s manifesto makes the not-altogether-depressing argument that some of us might be able to tame our gluttonous appetites (and maybe even slim down) by focusing on eating foods that deliver maximum flavor . . . Culinary Intelligence has nothing to do with shame, and everything to do with the idea of enlisting pleasure as your dietary ally.”
—Jeff Gordinier, The New York Times
“If you don’t want to be part of the obesity and diabetes epidemics in this country, read this book. Food-lover Peter Kaminsky lost weight and transformed his own diet without giving up delicious, nutritious, flavorful foods and he provides an entertaining roadmap for how hedonism and health can co-exist quite happily.”
—Arthur Agatston, M.D., preventive cardiologist and creator of the South Beach Diet
“Peter Kaminsky’s book shows that eating better definitely doesn’t mean compromising
on fantastic ingredients and delicious meals. It’s a great guide to how to make the most of your food.”
“Is Peter Kaminsky a double agent? For 20 years, he eats only the world’s best food, 'happens' to discover the cure for diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, and comes home to tell us to cook our own food, have lunch, and eat leftovers? A savvy, audacious book—long overdue.
—Bill Buford, author of Heat
“For most people, good health and hedonism make strange bedfellows. But for Peter Kaminsky, eating for pleasure is eating for longevity: the two go hand in hand, and happily. His brilliant new book, Culinary Intelligence, isn’t formulaic or abstemious. It’s a culinary doctrine deeply rooted in flavor, making cooking and eating well something to look forward to.”
“Peter Kaminsky’s rules for taking pounds off and keeping them off are based on a really good idea: Flavor per Calorie. That works for him and should make dieting a pleasure.”
—Marion Nestle, New York University, co-author of Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics
“Peter Kaminsky knows food from every angle there is. Culinary Intelligence breaks new ground by weaving together fascinating stories, wonderful insights about the way we relate to food, and practical advice for eating better and truly enjoying it more.”
—Kelly D. Brownell, Professor of Psychology, Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University
“Peter Kaminsky’s Culinary Intelligence is the ultimate food-lover’s handbook, full of mouth-watering prose and smart, practical advice for a new generation of conscientious eaters. With every turn of the page I was inspired and encouraged to make realistic, healthy choices, without the fear of sacrificing the pleasures inherent in eating well. This book will forever change the way you think about food and no doubt help us all tread a little lighter, on our plates, our palates and on the planet.”
—Gail Simmons, author of Talking with My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater
About the Author
Peter Kaminsky wrote Underground Gourmet for New York magazine for four years, and his Outdoors column appeared in The New York Times for twenty years. He is a longtime contributor to Food & Wine, and the former managing editor of National Lampoon. His books include Pig Perfect: Encounters with Remarkable Swine, The Moon Pulled Up an Acre of Bass, The Elements of Taste (with Gray Kunz), Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way (with Francis Mallmann), Letters to a Young Chef (with Daniel Boulud), Celebrate! (with Sheila Lukins), and John Madden’s Ultimate Tailgating. He is a creator and executive producer of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, on PBS.
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But as a primer for beginners lost in a sea of nutritional confusion, Culinary Intelligence is a huge success. Weaving a funny personal narrative with his own signature writing style, Kaminisky culls the wisdom that helped him lose 40 pounds and keep it off for six years.
This wisdom includes going off the Evil White Foods: sugar, flour, potatoes, rice, pasta.
Increasing flavor to achieve early satiety.
What to keep in the pantry.
Going off fruit juices and energy drinks.
Cooking food and putting one's eating passion into the cooking process.
The importance of staying away from industrial processed foods in general.
The importance of keeping a small degree of hedonism with bits of chocolate, beer, wine, and other foods to keep one sane.
His system works and makes for a great common sense introduction.
It helps that I've read previous books by this man. He's a good writer. And I liked reading new perspectives on episodes from previous books. Those helped tie things together in my head.
As other reviews noted, this book is more memoir than how-to, so you can't really rate it as a diet book or program, even though it is trying to pass itself off as such. It is, however, a really good read to give to someone who thinks dieting means the end of eating flavorful food. The concept of "Flavor Per Calorie" is an easily accessible one, especially as it relates to having a smaller portion of full-flavored/full-calorie/full-fat food, as opposed to eating more of a less satisfying low-calorie/low-fat food that simply leads to overeating because you aren't satisfied. Ditto for eating fewer processed foods - freshly prepared foods do satisfy far more than processed because it's what your body craves.
But that being said, I was a little annoyed with Mr. Kaminsky's statements on how - if you put a little effort into it - you could find things like varied types of fish or grass-fed beef. I live in the upper Midwest, so grass-fed beef, not a large problem - expensive, but not logistically difficult. But since I don't want to have high cholesterol, I can't live on beef. Having grown up on the East Coast (including NYC), I miss being able to get fresh seafood and good poultry. If I eat less seafood than I'd like it's not because I'm afraid of cooking seafood (as he posits in his book), it's because I can't get good seafood to begin with. Not everyone lives in NYC and has connections to food suppliers as Mr. Kaminsky does. And the conceit that anyone can just go out there and get the variety of high-quality, fresh ingredients he raves over can quickly become irritating.
The chapter on restaurant dining? If you are watching what you eat, skip an actual appetizer and order an appetizer for dinner. Unless it's supposed to be an amuse-bouche type of thing, most appetizers in restaurants these days are more than ample for dinner (and frequently more interesting than the entree menu). Limit your alcohol intake and skip or split dessert. You can now skip that chapter.
I was also a little disappointed in the recipes - especially the long and essentially tangential stories leading up to them. I don't care that you ate this recipe with a Rothschild and famous Argentine winemakers in a picturesque chestnut grove, I just want to read the recipe. I just spent the first 90% of your book reading varied memories - some simple commentary on the recipe would have been enough at this point.
While the raw brussel sprout salad does look nice, most of the other recipes were otherwise standard and unsurprising. Roasted chickens? I have several different recipes at my disposal (and thanks for telling me I should look for the best organic/heritage chickens possible to make the recipe sing - your recommended search of "heritage breeds" in my zip code showed I have to drive two hours out of my way for those.) Roasting fish in a salt-crust or vegetables in the oven to caramelize them? Wow, I've never, ever done either of those before. (Is the sarcasm coming through?)
Bottom line - it's an entertaining read, but there's nothing shockingly new or informative here if you are up to speed on healthy eating. However, if you have friends who are afraid of dieting or healthy eating, it's a pleasurable read for them that might make them think more about the food they eat.