I usually don't curl up with a cookbook because they tend to be bulky and cumbersome. Recently though I encountered Laurie Colwin's cookbook/memoir Home Cooking. The book fit snuggly into my hand, and in the opening she writes, "Unlike some people, who love to go out, I love to stay home." At that point this this homebody realized he had discovered a kindred spirit and a perfect book to distract me from the cold.
The book's casual delivery put me at ease. Her recipes are more casual suggestions rather than rigid instructions. Throughout the book, she gently nudged me to contemplate the possibilities each recipe might offer. This is an approach I need to adopt, for I too often cook by the book and find myself getting uptight about following a recipe verbatim.
This book also contains a dash of gentle humor, which is nice respite from the in-your-face, cynical humor that is in vogue. Do yourself a favor? Visit a bookstore or library and read pg. 150, where she describes some bad home-cooked meals she's had the misfortune of eating. She doesn't merely lambast these meals; instead, there's a certain reverence for such meals. She writes:
There is something triumphant about a really disgusting meal. It lingers in the memory with a lurid glow, just as something exalted is remembered with a kind of mellow brilliance. I am not think of kitchen disasters - chewy pasta, burnt browneis, curdled sauces: these can happen to anyone. I'm thinking about meals that are positively loathsome from soup to nuts, although one is not usually fortunate enough to get eith soup or nuts.Then she goes on to describe some of the worst home-cooked meals she's encountered. The following is a little taste from one of those meals:
Bad food abounds in restaurants, but somehow a bad meal in a restaurant and a bad home-cooked meal are not the same: after all, the restaurant did not invite you to dinner.
At the door, our hostess spoke these dread words: "I'm trying this recipe out on you. I've never made it before. It's a medieval recipe. It looked very interesting."This book is triumphant indeed and provides the perfect companion for some under-the-cover reading on a cold, winter day.
Somehow I have never felt that "interesting" is an encouraging word when applied to food.
In the kitchen were two enormous and slightly crooked pies.
"They're medieval fish pies," she said.
PS. . . Checkout the Snuggie blanket parody at YouTube.