I’m getting way ahead of myself. I’m immersed in “The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories and Opinions,” Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s latest doing (along with Sally Swift, the award-winning radio show’s producer). I’m barely keeping my head above water, so deep am I in love with this book, but I’m grinning the entire time, even as I’m gasping for air (not that such an overstatement is physiologically possible).
I’m midway through the book, through skimming recipes and thoughtfully perusing all the snatches and tidbits of accompanying information, and I haven’t yet made a single recipe (although, just the other night, I did employ the salad-in-a-bowl method, along with the biggest light-bulb-over-the-head, accompanied-by angelic-choirs tip to hit my kitchen in a long while, the suggestion to whisk in a drip of fish sauce to homemade vinaigrette for umami. Do you guys know about this? I’m telling you — try it now!). The book is, in a word, delightful. (I really do have a few critical bones in my body, I’m just not inclined to bend them here.)
Not to drop names, but while we’re on the subject anyway, I’ll mention that a couple of months ago I had the absolute pleasure of talking with Lynne for a magazine piece I was writing. Since then, I’ve been wanting to get this book, but I have a bad way of plunking things into my Amazon shopping cart and making them wait, until one day when I feel entitled and make the order official with a few practiced clicks.
The book arrived the other day. It landed on my doorstep under cover of cardboard, and I’m sure the mail carrier had no idea of the gloriousness he’d placed there, that within that box was a shrink-wrapped emblem of my current kitchen philosophy, and a token of my cooking future.
I’m hopelessly amenable to suggestion, and now Lynne and Sally have me wanting to visit an Indian grocery, place ever more cookbooks in my Amazon cart (thanks to their “Build the Library” featured cookbook sidebars), and do all sorts of new things to eggs, from making a 65-degree egg to pan-frying deviled eggs (a move that is sure to redeem the deviled egg in my eyes). All I can say is, thank goodness for cookbooks, because left to my own devices, to my personal void of imagination, we may never eat cinnamon-scented tomato sauce. Good cookbooks are capable of doing the same thing that good books do, of raising awareness and reinvigorating curiosity.
Another reason to like the book: it’s heavy on meatless dishes, and those that have meat can often accommodate a substitution (even those that can’t have something to offer by way of method). Lynne and Sally are big on encouragement, intent on coaxing the intuitive cook out of everybody who has ever, or who would like to, wield a pastry scraper or Microplane grater. The book mixes all that with a bringing-back-dinner philosophy – the authors are so into resurrecting dinner hour in American households that they’ve called it supper, which conjures altogether different ideas of what the meal should be all about.
And sometimes it starts with visiting the nearest Indian grocer.