Jan 25 2009

Books About Cooking

Published by at 6:00 pm under Food

elBulliLately I have been reading  a lot of books about cooking.  Not cook books, but books about the process, restaurants, or a particular ingredient. On the Line by Eric Ripert describes how Le Bernardin in New York City operates.  What Einstein Told His Cook by Robert Wolke is much like Harold McGee’s books on the science of food and cooking.  Recently, I picked up A Day at El Bulli by Ferran Adria.  It describes how the famous restaurant works and some of the methods that they use to create new dishes.  The similarities between creating a menu and creating a game are striking.

I have found that I have gone through a variety of phases in the way I cook.  Many years ago, I used to only do “foreign” cuisines.  This included Thai, Ethopian, Indian, etc.  Basically, non-Western cuisines.  After a number of years, I moved to a style which can only be described as “complex” cuisine – the more steps in a dish, the better.  I was fascinated by the process for a dish and created any number of brilliant meals which tasted like garbage.

A few years ago, I went in the opposite direction and started using extremely fresh and great ingredients that were cooked simply.  Most of my meat comes from Wind Dancer Ranch.  My vegetables come from Full Belly Farm.  Most everything else comes from Berkeley Bowl or Monterey Market.  I have also focused on the presentation at the table, even if it is just my family eating.  This means picking out the right serving bowl, making plates warm before serving, and thinking about the colors.

Now that I have been doing this simpler type of cooking for the past 5 years, I can feel a desire to move in another direction.  I think that it is one of the reasons I have picked up so many food books lately.  I doubt that I am going to head in the direction of Adria with molecular gastronomy, but inspiration can come from anywhere.

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