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This week I was going through some of my cookbook shelves and came across some books I've owned for a while (as in years) but haven't yet gotten a chance to read. I thought I'd share two of my finds.
I loved Michael Ruhlman's The Making of a Chef, so when his next book, The Soul of a Chef, came out in 2000, I bought it immediately. I am fascinated with the Certified Master Chef exam, which (when the book was written) cost almost $3000 and was near-impossible to pass. Here is the publisher's summary:
In his second in-depth foray into the world of professional cooking, Michael Ruhlman journeys into the heart of the profession. Observing the rigorous Certified Master Chef exam at the Culinary Institute of America, the most influential cooking school in the country, Ruhlman enters the lives and kitchens of rising star Michael Symon and renowned Thomas Keller of the French Laundry. This fascinating book will satisfy any reader's hunger for knowledge about cooking and food, the secrets of successful chefs, at what point cooking becomes an art form, and more.And to give you a feel for the prose, here is a random teaser:
[Y]ou accepted the implicit obligation of excellence: Every effort would be your absolute best. Otherwise it was simply not worth doing. At the same time, you accepted that your best was never your best and never could be because you could always work faster, cleaner, more efficiently. (p. 129)Very true, although this philosophy could drive you crazy.
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Published by Penguin/Viking 2001
The essay collection It Must've Been Something I Ate is Jeffrey Steingarten's follow-up to his award-winning The Man Who Ate Everything. I had hoped that sometime over the last eight years, I would have read at least one of the short pieces in this book, after all I really enjoyed Steingarten's first collection. I, however, must have been distracted, and the book has languished on my shelves.
Here's the publisher's summary.
In this outrageous and delectable new volume, the Man Who Ate Everything proves that he will do anything to eat everything. That includes going fishing for his own supply of bluefin tuna belly; nearly incinerating his oven in pursuit of the perfect pizza crust, and spending four days boning and stuffing three different fowl—into each other—to produce the Cajun specialty called “turducken.”The essays take us from Italy to France to California as we follow Steingarten on his food journeys. I think I'll start with the essay on the lobster roll. Here's the second paragraph:
It Must’ve Been Something I Ate finds Steingarten testing the virtues of chocolate and gourmet salts; debunking the mythology of lactose intolerance and Chinese Food Syndrome; roasting marrow bones for his dog , and offering recipes for everything from lobster rolls to gratin dauphinois. The result is one of those rare books that are simultaneously mouth-watering and side-splitting.
How, you are silently wonderingly, does a lobster couple practice sexual intercourse? That is a question I had often asked myself but, until a few weeks ago, lacked the mettle and initiative to investigate. For it was then that, lost in the trancelike state into which eating a lobster roll with french fries and the tiniest green salad at the Pearl Oyster Bar on Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village had plunged me, I was first able to acknowledge how little I truly understood the life cycle of the lobster, especially the sex part. An intense hunt for the facts immediately ensued.I know I'm going to love these essays . . . I just need to find some extra reading time.
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Published by Knopf, 2003
By the way, both books include a few recipes, but neither is a cookbook. Hope your weekend is wonderful! I can't wait to see what's going on in your kitchen.