Cookbooks

The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

The Art of Simple Food – Introduction

The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution by Alice Waters is the latest cookbook from the person who was a significant contributor to the fresh food revolution in California and a co-founder of the legendary Chez Panisse restaurant.

We have written in other articles about the effect her restaurant had on us when we visited in 1985. We were intrigued with the simplicity of the menu with dishes we were served including chicken and sweet corn soup, a simple pizza, roast chicken and peaches and ice cream. All were utterly delicious.

At the time, the wines were unknown to us so we asked for a recommendation. We were given a Domaine Tempier wine that went well with all the dishes. Little did we know that we were drinking our first natural wine as no-one was even using the term at that time.

We immediately warmed to this book because it is strong on technique not just a series of recipes without any explanation of WHY!

In fact, the first two hundred pages of The Art of Simple Food are devoted to techniques and foundations such as a detailed explanation of the technique of braising including a long explanation of how to prepare braised chicken legs.

There is a section of techniques for selecting and preparing salad greens. There is another on how to select and prepare fresh and dried beans. There is another on creating sweet and savoury tarts.

The author also devotes six pages to the preparation of her four essential sauces namely vinaigrette, salsa verde, aioli and herb butter showing the Mediterranean influences in her cooking.

This section takes the first 212 pages. The rest of the book is divided along the traditional soups, pasta, eggs, meat, desserts and others where the majority of the recipes are listed.

These recipes call on, and reference, the techniques and foundations presented in the first section of The Art of Simple Food.

Every recipe is a gem and the explanations are clear and precise.

This is a great book from a legendary restaurateur which we are pleased to be able to include in our Foodtourist Top Fifty Cookbooks.

You can read an interesting “warts and all” account of her life from the New York Times by clicking on the link below:

Alice Waters on Sex, Drugs and Sustainable Agriculture

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