Yesterday, I looked for a particular book on preparing vegetables in the traditional French manner. I had some Swiss chard, which I love but which is sometimes bitter and I wanted to blanch it in water with a little flour added, a process whose name I can not remember other than the phrase contains the word blanc.
Anyway, I could not find the book, but, in looking through my shelves, I thought of all the great books that I have neglected over the past few years, avoiding cooking because I hate being in my own house because my youngest son is here and because I was working two ill paying jobs to support myself and hadn’t the time to cook. I called my food prep warming although I never bought prepared foods.
How nice some cookbooks are. I still love my first mentors, Elizabeth David and Richard Olney. I loved the casual approach of David and the elegantly simple line drawings of Olney. More to the point, I love the France they evoke, the post war world recovering and rising from devastation. Their books, along with M.F.K. Fisher’s speak of recovery, reclamation, and healing.
There are other, newer cookbooks I love just as much but in different ways for different reasons because they are the products of different times. Ada Boni’s classic Italian recipes, printed like a dictionary without illustrations comes to mind because it so no nonsense, like dictation taken in the kitchen of your (a universal you, and certainly not my grandmother!) talented grandmother.