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An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace Hardcover – October 18, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 224 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review


Amazon Exclusive: Michael Ruhlman Reviews An Everlasting Meal

Michael Ruhlman is the author of The French Laundry Cookbook and The Making of a Chef.

I'm sent countless advanced proofs of books asking for "blurbs," words of praise that the publisher can use to entice book buyers. I get so many, in fact, that they can feel more a burden than a pleasure. An Everlasting Meal by a writer I didn't know was one such book, so it was all but accidental that it came with me on a July trip to the beaches of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where I opened it, reclined on a towel on a gorgeous stretch of sand. By the time I was half finished, I'd already contacted the editor to say I'd happily write something on behalf of this book, because I love it. It's smart, graceful and strangely, beautifully reassuring.

Tamar Adler, a writer and cook who has logged serious time behind the line in actual restaurants, sets out to model her book on How to Cook a Wolf by the doyenne of literary food writing, M.F.K. Fisher--an audacious, incredibly presumptuous intent. Adler does neither Fisher nor herself a disservice in the comparison. The essays in this book are truly fine, formed from both thought-provoking ideas and practical advice about food, cooking and eating. I've read few books that ask us to think about food with this kind of elegance, whether discoursing on how to cook an egg or how to set a table. I always looked forward to picking this book up, and I always felt an ease and comfort while reading. It's hard to imagine a more elegant book of essays on the subject.

A worthy companion to Fisher, highly recommended. --Michael Ruhlman


Review

An Everlasting Meal is beautifully intimate, approaching cooking as a narrative that begins not with a list of ingredients or a tutorial on cutting an onion, but with a way of thinking…. Tamar is one of the great writers I know—her prose is exquisitely crafted, beautiful and clear-eyed and open, in the thoughtful spirit of M.F.K. Fisher. This is a book to sink into and read deeply.” —Alice Waters, from the Foreword

"It can be tricky, in this age of ethically charged supermarket choices, to remember that eating is an act of celebration. Tamar Adler's terrific book wisely presents itself as a series of how to’sHow To Boil Water, How to Have Balance, How to Live Well—with the suggestion that it's not only possible to do all these things, but in fact a pleasure. An Everlasting Meal provides the very best kind of lesson (reminding us we enjoy being taught), that there is real joy to be had in eating, and eating well." --Dan Barber, Chef/Co-Owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns

“Tamar Adler understands a simple truth that seems to evade a lot of cookbook writers and self-proclaimed ‘foodies’: cooking well isn't about special equipment or exotic condiments or over-tested recipes (and it sure isn't about ‘quickfire challenges’ or kicking it up a notch). It's about learning some basics, respecting the ingredients, and developing a little culinary intuition, or maybe just plain common sense. A book can’t necessarily teach you how to do that, but An Everlasting Meal will almost certainly inspire you to teach yourself.” --Colman Andrews, author of The Country Cooking of Italy and Editorial Director of TheDailyMeal.com

“In this beautiful book, Tamar Adler explores the difference between frugal and resourceful cooking. Few people can turn the act of boiling water into poetry. Adler does. By the time you savor the last page, your kitchen will have transformed into a playground, a boudoir and a wide open field. An Everlasting Meal deserves to be an instant and everlasting culinary classic.” –Raj Patel, author of The Value of Nothing and Stuffed and Starved

"An Everlasting Meal is a great thrill to read. Anyone who cooks is engaged in a re-creation of the Enlightenment Age--beginning with alchemy and mystery, always grasping towards chemistry and a tasty supper. With this book, Tamar Adler has chronicled our epic. Her tone manages to make the reader almost feel like he is thinking out loud. A marvelous accomplishment." –Jack Hitt, contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine

“Lessons so right and so eloquent that I think of them as homilies." --Corby Kummer, The New York Times Book Review

“Reads less like a cookbook than like a recipe for a delicious life.” --New York Magazine

"Reading [An Everlasting Meal] is like having a cooking teacher whispering suggestions in your ear.... Mindfulness, I’m discovering through this terrific book, can be delicious."
--Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City

“Tamar Adler has written the best book on ‘cooking with economy and grace’ that I have read since MFK Fisher.”
--Michael Pollan

"What it really is is a book about how to live a good life: take the long view, give to others, learn from everything you do, and always, always, always mindfully enjoy what you are doing and what you’ve done. The fact you’ll learn to be a great cook is just a bonus." --Forbes.com

"Adler proves herself an adept essayist in this discourse on instinctive home cooking. Though highly personal, it’s much less a food memoir than a kind of cooking tao." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Simultaneously meditative and practical, about how to appreciate and use what you have and how to prepare it appropriately with a minimum of fuss, space, equipment, or waste." --The Austin Chronicle
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (October 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 143918187X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439181874
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read a lot but don't often write reviews for books, much less cookbooks. However, I really must write a review for An Everlasting Meal because it literally changed my life (in a week!). I am the child of the typical baby-boomer working mother who was too busy to cook, yet too poor to buy anything good -- my childhood was all economy, no grace. After marrying, I became a self-taught cook, learning from those Food Network shows and glossy paged celebrity chef cookbooks. While I am grateful for the techniques I have learned, I have felt the past few years my cooking has suffered from all grace and no economy. This has led to the problem of cooking burnout, and spoiled (lovely, organic) groceries, and way too much Thai takeout. With 3 growing kids, less time to grocery shop, and huge food bills, I needed a change of thinking AND doing. This book has provided that!

Tonight I had a few (lovely, organic) chicken breasts in the fridge that were getting perilously close to the date. As it is the end of the weekend, I haven't shopped in days and I don't have the ingredients to make any of my glossy paged cookbook recipes. There was some stuff in the fridge, yet I would have thought "nothing to make". Thanks to Tamar Adler, I pulled out my trusty pot, boiled some very salty water and starting by boiling the chicken (who does that???) with a handful of Tuscan spice blend. Then I sauteed a diced onion with some leftover mushrooms (that also would have gone bad), chopped celery ends my kids didn't eat from their Ants on a Log, then made a little roux. I created a sauce with a couple of cups of the broth from the chicken breasts and a cup of milk and random cheese bits. Then I tossed some random leftover cooked veggies and the diced chicken breasts in my lovely mushroom sauce.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed Tamar Adler's book. The tone of it, and how she is so kind to all involved - eggs, beans, or us poor helpless things lost in the kitchen. I felt like she was taking me by the hand to show me that cooking is not daunting, that it is just part of everyday life. I only need to start water boiling, or pick up where I left off, and follow the thread of continuity.

I have a collection of unread cookbooks for kitchen-challenged people. I tried to use them but I could just not get into them, as if they were trying to fix a problem I didn't have. But this book is a beautiful read in itself, a true book, not only a collection of recipes. It shows how to look at things differently, as if she were just whispering to us, "you've known it all along". I don't need to learn from these cookbooks, I can cook already, enough to get started. And the idea of always using ends to feed beginnings, nuts roasted in the cooling oven or pasta turned into a frittata, is very appealing to me, almost poetic.

This book flows with wonderful ease and a sense of elegant clarity all along; and it finally got me cooking regularly where all the others had failed!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you love food and are looking for something a little different than the typical cook book, check out Tamar Adler's "An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace." I'll admit up-front that I was predisposed to like this book since Tamar started as a cook at Chez Panisse the same week I started my culinary school internship in Chez's kitchen. But the book has received strong reviews from the likes of The New York Times and Forbes - so this positive review isn't just personal bias. Fans of M.F.K. Fisher will feel right at home - inspired by Fisher's "How to Cook a Wolf" (1942), "An Everlasting Meal" is more about cooking well (and therefore living well) than it is a collection of recipes. Recipes in standard format are scattered throughout, and they follow traditional methods - no molecular gastronomy here. In chapter 19, I was ecstatic to discover Tamar's version of Maiale al Latte - pork braised in milk with garlic, sage and lemon - which I was first introduced to at Chez and has since become one of my all-time favorite dishes. But beyond the "formal" recipes, Tamar's prose and its underlying message of cooking (and living) well will inspire novice and experienced cooks alike.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I suspect it's hard to write a "breakthrough" book about cooking and food these days, but Tamar Adler's lovely new offering, "An Everlasting Meal", rewards us and then some. It's both traditional and non-traditional, which makes it more appealing.

Adler writes around the edges of food. She readily admits not to like cooking on occasion and for those of us who appreciate food but never have had the patience to cook...well, this is something good to hear. She tells that taste is everything and not to throw away most of what we gardeners, cooks or eaters might do...like the tops of vegetables, for instance. Adler even makes the reader study.....I love English peas and got caught up in her rapture about them and how to involve children in preparing them. I don't care for beets but I gobbled up her lines about them with just as much intrigue.

What I really love about this book is her creativity in naming chapters. "How to Live Well", is devoted to beans, of all things...that staple of so many diets. "How to Feel Powerful" delves into...of all things...anchovies and olives. But my favorite was "How to Light a Room". You must purchase this book for that chapter alone.

Adler's narrative is straightforward with recipes along the way that most of us will probably never make but are tempting to read. Just when you think she might not have sense of humor, she tells the story of an onion and a garlic farmer. Such good stuff. I highly recommend "An Everlasting Meal".
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