Monday, June 02, 2008

Vital Book

Local Flavors - Deborah Madison

Mike Sula in last week's Reader highlights several new cook books (with one, Terrine by Stephane Reynaud high on my list as I just ordered a 1/2 hog from the Wettstein's farm). Sula needed to add a few more favorites and used his blog to enhance his list. (My guru, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall makes the supplemental list; Sula cites his River Cottage Cookbook, although the one that I'm liking more right now is the River Cottage Family Cookbook, also out.)

Must be a hot media item, as the New York Times also reviewed new cookbooks this weekend. They too felt it necessary to include a web-extra list of books. And buried in there, for the computer savvy, one can find the most important, the most vital book of the season, Local Flavors by Deborah Madison.

The New York Times does not waste a lot of words on this tome:

"A paperback edition of an influential cookbook first published in 2002. "
Me, what I would say first is "thank god this thing is back in print." See a while back we gave a way our edition as a present before we even made use of the book, with the promise that I would buy a new one. Then, for over a year at least, we found it outta circulation. We picked up the new edition over the weekend. As far as I can tell, there is no new editorial content. Yet, for a book six years old, it remains more current than ever.

Three reasons: a natural organization of foods that is not tied to the ideal California-Tuscan notion of seasonality; recipes that are simple, useful and based on accessible ingredients; and bits of wisdom sprinkled throughout its pages. Any time I open the book, I find something that I wanna make. Something I can make. The nuggets interspersed, I feel like I could have written those myself, although my wife thinks it insulting that I dare compare myself to Ms. Madison.

Randomly, I open the book. On page 67, an herb salad, the recipe like so many in the book is not so much an order but a request. You can mimic the combination she presents or follow her general directions to make an herb salad with whatever you have around. Page 98, she reveals that Alaska can produce a farmer's market as good as anywhere warmer. Page 116, she finds that Birmingham, Alabama can be as limited in offerings in late September as Chicago can be in early May. Page 201, 3 beet caviar with goat cheese; page 267, Concord grape tart.

This book is filled with the type of things my wife and I cook, how our family eats. As you put more local on your table, use Local Flavors to guide you.

1 comment:

Carlene said...

I love that Deborah Madison book! I didn't know it was out of print, but I'm glad it's been reprinted. Very inspiring, and a beautiful book, too.