It’s been such a gloomy and unproductive start to this year, for reasons I don’t want to go into and despite the very warm and wonderful support form other bloggers and readers when this blog was down, that in the selfish interests of cheering myself up, I’ve decided to note two kind bits of attention my work has received. NYTimes restaurant critic Frank Bruni noted Elements of Cooking was among the books that caught his attention this year, which he calls “incredibly handy and exhaustive to boot.” He also makes note of, among others, US of Arugula and Amateur Gourmet’s first book, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend. I would add Judith Jones’s The Tenth Muse to Bruni’s list and John Thorne’s Mouth Wide Open is next in my pile of books. I was also sent The Oxford Companion to Italian Food, by Gillian Riley, an outstanding reference I’m delighted to have. With the very first use I was thoroughly gratified—I was looking to find the basic components of a traditional bagna cauda, and there it was (no acid I was surprised to see), and then mostarda—both were defined concisely, completely and elegantly in this handsome edition.
And serious eats gave me a Serious Eater award (I edged out Michael Pollan and Mario!)—I don’t know who votes on these things or what it means or why I was chosen, but I’m a fan of serious eats and Ed Levine and so feel duly honored, especially given the somber mood in here.
Then, while I was writing this self-indulgent post, an email dropped from the elegant Clotilde, author of Chocolate and Zucchini, the book and the blog, who has posted more kind words about Elements with the additional and fun proposition to readers of listing the kitchen tools they would chose if they could only have five. I love this game.
I’ve been enjoying writing the Elements of Cooking blog more than I’d anticipated. Each week I post an “element” and while I’d originally done it more or less to promote the book and show people the kind of information that was in it, the discussions it’s brought about, have been fascinating and instructive to me, especially with with chefs Mike Pardus and Bob del Grosso, and occasionally the opinionated Shuna, weighing in. If you’re a cook, please check it out and comment on the fundamentals you care about.
Indeed, I have much to be grateful for.
And so I will conclude with an "element" from Elements that isn’t food or technique, but rather the professionals who make it happen in restaurants (photo by Donna from the Lola kitchen here in Cleveland):
Line cook: A line cook is a professional cook, or journeyman cook, who works a station on the hot or cold line during service. Line cook is generally one of the most stressful and physically demanding (and least well-paid) positions in a restaurant, so much so that it’s got its own distinct ethos and subculture. Line cooks are the rockers and the backbone of the American restaurant kitchen, and the best are a special breed, in a league of their own.