Do you remember when I pledged to buy no more cookbooks? I tossed that oath out into the blogosphere and it returned flying on a cosmic karma boomerang. What was on my cosmic karma boomerang, you might ask? Well, a cookbook, of course. And not just a cookbook, but an autographed cookbook, and not just an autographed cookbook, but an autographed cookbook, actually autographed to me!!!
That's right, my new BFF's Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, sent me a cookbook, their cookbook! Remember when I posted about the anniversary of The Flavor Bible. As an appreciation, they sent me The New American Chef: Cooking with the Best of Flavors and Techniques from Around the World!
Oh my. What a cookbook it is! Well, first of all, I don't even know if I would call it a cookbook, it's almost more like a textbook. (Since I'm a teacher, we know how I feel about that). But really, there is so much to learn in this book. I am actually reading it cover to cover. It starts out with a 20 page introduction (which that right there should tell you something). It's all about how to learn to cook a specific cuisine. How to immerse yourself in the cuisine and learn to discriminate the flavors.
Some of my favorite parts are where Rick Bayless talks about learning to cook Thai. I highlighted one of his quotes (yes, it's that kind of book, you want to have a highlighter handy), "It is important to go into something with a completely open mind and to do what you are told. People laugh when I tell them that when I cook from other people's books, I literally follow every single direction. I measure everything out, cook exactly the way they say for as long as they say, and try to experience what they are trying to teach me. That is the way to learn a cuisine."
After the introduction, the book is divided into sections: Japan, Italy, Spain, France, China, India, Mexico, Thailand, Vietnam, and Morocco. Each section opens with an introduction to that cuisine. Again, this is about 20-30 pages of reading. Different chefs make comments and give suggestions. There is everything from techniques, to holidays, to menus, to a recommend reading list, and more! Then there is a handful of recipes from that cuisine.
I know that there are a lot of people, who do the Cook the Books, where they cook through an entire cookbook. That never really appealed to me, but with this book it really does. One because, there is not an overwhelming number of recipes, and two because I think I could really learn something.
Also, you know the whole cosmic karma boomerang thing that I mentioned in the first paragraph, well, let it be known that I am now pledging to buy no more shoes.