I confess. I read coookbooks. I love them. I find they are the perfect spacer between the mysteries I must (and love to) read professionally. My favorites paint a history and a story with recipes. I couldn't say it better than from the intro to Mouth Wide Open: "What I do is look for recipes with the potential for a lively conversation...I don't follow recipes; I interact with them." (North Point Press, $26)
I have my favorite authors; Jacques, Edna, The Frug, James, Laurie, and even my guilty pleasures; Tony, Nigella, Jamie.
But a new volume of John Thornes' essays is cause to rejoice. Thorne asks us to expand our horizons and gives us the means to eat there. Always a New England pragmatist he discusses food in America and finds surprising simple joys. Originally, these essays appear in the Thorne's newsletter, Simple Cooking, begun in 1983. I've been a big fan of Thorne's writings since my publisher's sales rep days and sold Simple Cooking back in '87. This is the finest commentary on American Food as I've found. I urge you to track down all of the books.
Some of my favorite things John Thorne has taught me:
Tunna Pannkakor. With Lingonberry Jam. My Swedish aunties made them, and here's why.
Macaroni and Cheese. Can you argue with Pearl Bailey? I can't. (p.32)
Chili. This essay deconstructs all aspects of The Bowl of Red.
Rice. I now keep 4 kinds in the house.
Quintessential Toast. 12 pages about Toast.
I haven't been able to cook out of Mouth Wide Open yet, but I'm looking forward to spending a day making Marmalade. Sevilles will be in season soon.
I wanted to assure you that yes, I do read all the books I report on.
In researching the links for this Book Report, I found this special article, I include it just for you, democommie™™™™®©
Mouth Wide Open is available at Jackson Street Books and fine independent bookstores everywhere. As many of these titles are out of print, searching Biblio.com may provide copies. And sorry, the signed James Beard is not for sale.