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Hardcover Beard on Food : The Best Recipes and Kitchen Wisdom from the Dean of American Cooking Book

ISBN: 1596914467

ISBN13: 9781596914469

Beard on Food : The Best Recipes and Kitchen Wisdom from the Dean of American Cooking

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Book Overview

In Beard on Food , one of America's great culinary thinkers and teachers collects his best essays, ranging from the perfect hamburger to the pleasures of oxtails, from salad dressing to Sauce Diable. The result is not just a compendium of fabulous recipes and delicious bites of writing. It's a philosophy of food-unfussy, wide-ranging, erudite, and propelled by Beard's exuberance and sense of fun. In a series of short, charming essays, with recipes...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Learn how to become a competent scratch cook... or chef (details)

Beard's favorite dishes are not precisely companionable with 21st Century thinking on what to eat. He was a blood sausage, fondue, and pâté man at heart. But more importantly for his devotees, he took cooking from its most elemental notions and, through clear and simple processes, built upon this essential knowledge so that we can still all benefit from his inestimable culinary skills as we create modern dishes. This particular book is a compendium of articles written by Beard, each entry containing the details of two or three theme recipes. All these recipes are complete and easy to follow. The other half of each article encapsulates the ambiance of each dish, the event, or both. James Beard was no Shakespeare... thankfully. His writing is robust, clear, and to the point. Obviously, the text here is conveyed in the elemental literary style of the newspaper journalist, more of a promotional how-to approach of writing and very appropriate to the purpose of the work. I'm reviewing the Knopf/Borzoi 1974, 316-page (not including the index) hardcover edition which features a dust jacket portrait of Beard rendered by Antoinette Schulte. The book illustrations (at the outset of the chapters) were drawn by Bill Greer and Beard was additionally assisted in the text of this book by José Wilson. Beard characterizes these dishes as "American cooking." I don't really think that this is so -- I would call it (for the most part) European cooking employing American techniques or at the least, Euro-American fusion cooking. If you understand Beard's background, you can garner a more comprehensive sense of where he comes from in the world of cooking. Beard was an inventor and he often substituted for traditional ingredients and improvised necessary devices in the face of cooking adversity. As a youth he helped his mother cook spring shellfish at what was then the wilds of an Oregon beach on the Pacific. So he developed many of his own techniques, many of them outdoors, prior to actually encountering established professional cookery in restaurants and so many of his methods make infinite sense. It's also relevant to know that Beard was the feature chef of the very first American television cooking program. The following semi-biographical Beard cookbook (and not all that well-known) makes a nice companion work to the book under review: James Beard's Outdoor Cooking. As a huge fan of the old Master Chef, my paperback copy of The James Beard Cookbook is now contained within a plastic zip-lock bag because it's falling to pieces from extended use. For a more philosophical biography of Beard (along with a number of great recipes) acquire a copy of The Armchair James Beard which was edited by John Ferrone. And finally, you can also visit (or join) The James Beard Foundation online to learn more about the man and his inventive culinary techniques. If Beard's recipes are not all timely in character, they are certainly easy and they represent the sorts of dishes which

Delicious prose....

James Beard has been an inspiration for me since I found my first cookbook of his at a garage sale when I was a teenager. This collection of essays and recipes reminds me why. Despite being very much grounded in the time they were written (the limited availability of ingredients that he describes, the novelty of food ideas we now take for granted), Beard's love for food and his unbridled enthusiasm for sharing good eating with good friends is a joy to revisit. His visionary status is confirmed by his explanations and encouragement to his readers to try new things, explore different cultural influences, and not to lose sight of good plain delicious food. He was a true food voluptuary, and anyone who loves to cook and read about cooking should grab this book and savor every bite.

When Chef's were Chef's

There was a time when we had real chefs and food writers in America - authentic professionals such as Julia Child, Craig Claiborne, Edna Lewis, M.F.K. Fisher, and Jim Beard (we still have Jacques Pepin!). They were dedicated cooks and bakers - not celebrities bent on spreading themselves too thin to make a profit. They didn't run restaurant chains, endorse second rate merchandise, expose us to their private lives in an effort of self-canonization, or appear on cooking programs that bear more than a passing resemblance to late-night talk shows. There was a time, too, when good food was served on its own merits, without benefit of complex plated architecture, odd fusions, and intimidating presentations that deter more than delight. (No, I do not regard an egg-sized "foam" of sea scallops surrounded by a dozen strategically placed kernels of corn as a decent meal. Were I subjected to such nonsense, you can bet that on the way home, I'd stop at a Jane-and-Michael Stern approved sandwich dive for a Pepper-and-Egg and please don't forget the fries). The recipes presented in this volume are straightforward and honest and they maximize the inherent beauty of the ingredients. Beard respected food the way nature delivered it - and he never felt the need to bastardize it in any way. He spoke with near reverence about the sheer beauty of onions and the simplicity of baked rhubarb. Above all, Beard had culinary integrity. He wrote with passion, but his prose is so approachable and comfortable that you feel as though he's sitting across from you at the kitchen table. Sure, some of Beard's ideas and recipes may seem dated and we probably eat healthier now than in 50s and 60s. If, however, you want to read about a true love of food and its preparation for its own sake, this is a marvelous volume - without the "BAM!", "YUMMO!", or "Y'ALL". Beard was a giant in more ways than one. He was a great teacher who never stopped learning himself. Toward the end of his life, he was put on a restricted diet, which served to make him even more creative - but in ways that made sense. Even before Alice Waters and the Slow Food Movement, Beard believed in eating seasonally and buying locally (Beard hailed from Oregon and never forgot the delicaces and bounty of his childhood). When I get to that Great Dinner Party in the next life, I hope to be invited to the Beard-Child-Claiborne-Fisher-Lewis table, where the food and conversation will truly be a walk in the Elysian Fields.

Conversation with the Master of American Cuisine

This is laid out so well in a series of articles that Beard writes on his experiences with food, chefs, and restaurants. He not only talks about the purchase, prep and cooking, but also exquisite accounts of his memories of the recipe as he ate, sometimes with others.Especially see his ideas about grilling hamburger. So luscious, with heavy cream, onions! So good! This volume is chock full of treasures of tidbits from the easily recognized giant of the American culinary craft.
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