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The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution

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Perhaps more responsible than anyone for the revolution in the way we eat, cook, and think about food, Alice Waters has “single-handedly chang[ed] the American palate” according to the New York Times. Her simple but inventive dishes focus on a passion for flavor and a reverence for locally produced, seasonal foods. With an essential repertoire of timeless, approachable Perhaps more responsible than anyone for the revolution in the way we eat, cook, and think about food, Alice Waters has “single-handedly chang[ed] the American palate” according to the New York Times. Her simple but inventive dishes focus on a passion for flavor and a reverence for locally produced, seasonal foods. With an essential repertoire of timeless, approachable recipes chosen to enhance and showcase great ingredients, The Art of Simple Food is an indispensable resource for home cooks. Here you will find Alice’s philosophy on everything from stocking your kitchen, to mastering fundamentals and preparing delicious, seasonal inspired meals all year long. Always true to her philosophy that a perfect meal is one that’s balanced in texture, color, and flavor, Waters helps us embrace the seasons’ bounty and make the best choices when selecting ingredients. Fill your market basket with pristine produce, healthful grains, and responsibly raised meat, poultry, and seafood, then embark on a voyage of culinary rediscovery that reminds us that the most gratifying dish is often the least complex.


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Perhaps more responsible than anyone for the revolution in the way we eat, cook, and think about food, Alice Waters has “single-handedly chang[ed] the American palate” according to the New York Times. Her simple but inventive dishes focus on a passion for flavor and a reverence for locally produced, seasonal foods. With an essential repertoire of timeless, approachable Perhaps more responsible than anyone for the revolution in the way we eat, cook, and think about food, Alice Waters has “single-handedly chang[ed] the American palate” according to the New York Times. Her simple but inventive dishes focus on a passion for flavor and a reverence for locally produced, seasonal foods. With an essential repertoire of timeless, approachable recipes chosen to enhance and showcase great ingredients, The Art of Simple Food is an indispensable resource for home cooks. Here you will find Alice’s philosophy on everything from stocking your kitchen, to mastering fundamentals and preparing delicious, seasonal inspired meals all year long. Always true to her philosophy that a perfect meal is one that’s balanced in texture, color, and flavor, Waters helps us embrace the seasons’ bounty and make the best choices when selecting ingredients. Fill your market basket with pristine produce, healthful grains, and responsibly raised meat, poultry, and seafood, then embark on a voyage of culinary rediscovery that reminds us that the most gratifying dish is often the least complex.

30 review for The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ginny

    I'm one of those people who reads cookbooks cover to cover when I get them. Strange? This book was a re-gifted Christmas present from a friend who didn't want it. Their loss was my gain. I'd seen the book in the bookstore before and was turned off by the lack of photos and the atypical recipe format of not putting all the ingredients in one list at the start of the recipe. However, as I started to make the first dishes I found that for actually cooking/baking this format is easier and better I'm one of those people who reads cookbooks cover to cover when I get them. Strange? This book was a re-gifted Christmas present from a friend who didn't want it. Their loss was my gain. I'd seen the book in the bookstore before and was turned off by the lack of photos and the atypical recipe format of not putting all the ingredients in one list at the start of the recipe. However, as I started to make the first dishes I found that for actually cooking/baking this format is easier and better thought out than the more traditional method I am used to. I do note that when shopping for ingredients and making sure you have everything you need for the dish it does require a little more effort - not a significant enough reason not to prefer this way of setting out a recipe. The book doesn't explain that it is divided into 2 sections the first being stock dishes and the second being nuances on the basics. It confused me at first but I got over it. I love that Alice explains in each section the method that should be used for preparing something - and also why it is important. This last part is so often omitted from recipes. For example you've likely heard that it is important to have butter at room temperature before folding it into sugar to make baked goods. I've known this forever, but when I've been in a time crunch I've fudged on this - I figured is it really that big a deal. Well it is and Alice explains why (the butter is a binding agent if it isn't soft enough to accept the sugar and then the eggs the bakery item won't be as light and fluffy and it should be). In short I love this book. I love the layout, the philosophy (buying locally, seasonally), and each dish I've made so far was quite good (only made 3 so far but there will definitely be more).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mackey

    I assume, but shouldn't, that anyone looking at this book knows who Alice Waters is. For those who do not - she is the "mother" of the farm to table movement. Her restaurant is world famous for its sustainable foods that she grows herself or she ensures that it comes from a sustainable source. The work she has done with the local school children, teaching them organic gardening so that they grow their own food for their school lunches, is phenomenal to say the least. It's a movement that is I assume, but shouldn't, that anyone looking at this book knows who Alice Waters is. For those who do not - she is the "mother" of the farm to table movement. Her restaurant is world famous for its sustainable foods that she grows herself or she ensures that it comes from a sustainable source. The work she has done with the local school children, teaching them organic gardening so that they grow their own food for their school lunches, is phenomenal to say the least. It's a movement that is brilliant and growing, spreading across America and the world. The book contains notes from Waters, ideas, lessons regarding sustainable foods and growing your own food and then, of course, recipes for her mouth-watering dishes. If you never have tried any of her recipes or perhaps you've never heard of her, then this is a must read. For those who are familiar with her then it's an amazing resource!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    I'm being biased in my star rating because this isn't really a great cookbook by any means. I just love Alice Waters and appreciate her purpose in writing this. This isn't so much a "cookbook" as it is a book that tries to educate on how to approach food differently, to get our minds out of the increasingly fast-food mentality. If someone who didn't know Alice Waters' goals were to pick it up, they might be disappointed with the cursory, almost random-seeming and too-simple recipes. They read like I'm being biased in my star rating because this isn't really a great cookbook by any means. I just love Alice Waters and appreciate her purpose in writing this. This isn't so much a "cookbook" as it is a book that tries to educate on how to approach food differently, to get our minds out of the increasingly fast-food mentality. If someone who didn't know Alice Waters' goals were to pick it up, they might be disappointed with the cursory, almost random-seeming and too-simple recipes. They read like conversations with Waters, who uses them as vehicles to illustrate her approach to fine ingredients and techniques. They also provide a good base for ideas that you can tweak and be creative with. Recently, I read an interview with a former chef of Chez Panisse. He said in their early days of fame, people would make a pilgrimage out to Berkley and be disappointed or surprised to see the food was nothing spectacular, nothing fancy. Just simple, good food - special in its simplicity-to-taste ratio, and its special journey to the plate. In the same vein, the recipes here will produce good results (good food, respect for the land, community) if you first take the time and care to seek out good ingredients, then actually take the time and care to prepare, cook and enjoy them. P.S. I would highly recommend the onion tart concept with the addition of some grated parmesan on the top.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    I really liked this book. It has wonderful, simple recipes and explanations on technique. I liked that it gives recipes according to season, so that you can utilize the seasonal fruits and veggies.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

    Alice Waters takes a lot of shit for beginning the whole organic, locally-sourced food movement in the USA. People think it's elitist, or some hippy crap, or that it's too expensive for "regular folks", whoever the hell that refers to. I call bullshit on the bullshit callers. One can eat cheap, healthy, organic, local, and rounded- you just have to plan and make an effort when you shop, and learn some techniques, some go-to inexpensive ingredients, learn about the wonders simple things like Alice Waters takes a lot of shit for beginning the whole organic, locally-sourced food movement in the USA. People think it's elitist, or some hippy crap, or that it's too expensive for "regular folks", whoever the hell that refers to. I call bullshit on the bullshit callers. One can eat cheap, healthy, organic, local, and rounded- you just have to plan and make an effort when you shop, and learn some techniques, some go-to inexpensive ingredients, learn about the wonders simple things like fresh herbs and the right spice balance can do for simple dishes. But you also have to learn to love cooking and make cooking a habit. You also have to have that moment when you realize that cooking well, and caring about what you're cooking, and caring about knowing how to cook the ingredients you now care about, becomes about as meaningful and rewarding a way to spend your time on earth as us lowly humans can hope for. Like painting, like playing a musical instrument, like mathematics, basketball, or writing, cooking is something that requires some foreknowledge, some objects external to yourself, some technique, some practice, some formulation, some trial and error; but once you have a certain set of skills and a certain basic knowledge to draw from, an entire experiential universe opens up to you. Cooking at its most fun and most rewarding is a finite durational experience that ends in extreme and refined pleasure for the self, involving careful measurements at the same time as improvisation, flights of fancy and reliance on tradition, exact timing, balance, adjustments, erasures, additions, quick-thinking, manipulation of space-time and its various constituents, a simultaneous utilization of the ocular, aural, gustatory, and tactile sensations- a virtuoso display of body-mind-memory-precognition prowess! The Art of Simple Food gives you the ideas, the basics, the techniques, the reasons, the rationale, the ins-and-outs-and-hows-and-whys. Learn to cook a meal, you lazy bastards!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Every time I go into a book store (a dangerous place for me to be), I flip though this book. I love the cover, I always wanted to eat at her restaurant and just love the concept. Having not eaten meat in nearly...gees...seven years, I'm quite picky about my cook books. I already don't eat meat, I'm not going to give up the art of real cooking, too. This book is absolutely terrific for the seasoned cook and novice. In fact, as a twenty year-old newbie who grew up without a cook in the home, this Every time I go into a book store (a dangerous place for me to be), I flip though this book. I love the cover, I always wanted to eat at her restaurant and just love the concept. Having not eaten meat in nearly...gees...seven years, I'm quite picky about my cook books. I already don't eat meat, I'm not going to give up the art of real cooking, too. This book is absolutely terrific for the seasoned cook and novice. In fact, as a twenty year-old newbie who grew up without a cook in the home, this book would have been a godsend and bumped me up to "competent" in a few weeks, rather than months/years. Begin at the very beginning: Waters starts with the basics, explaining kitchen must-haves, from pots and pans to pantry staples and seasonal bits to keep in stock. She also goes into fruit and veggies, flours and what makes extra virgin olive oil extra virgin, and when you can use the cheaper "olive oil" instead. She expresses the importance of setting--tasting your food with company and a table, enjoying complex flavor, but also taking pride in what you put in your face. In short, it's a similar message to "French Women Don't Get Fat," except, refreshingly, Waters is an artist and wrote a cook book rather than a self help. No, the recipes aren't low fat. In fact, many involve a bechemel and butter's her best friend: however, the very ground work of this book teaches the most rudimentary basic that most Americans seem to be missing: TASTE your food, love your food--value what you put in your body, love the taste, no matter how simple, and if it's not good, don't eat it. Amazingly, the other aspects of a healthy lifestyle magically fall into place: recycle, compost, eat seasonally and locally, as well as diversely. Eat slowly and thoughtfully, treasure what you put in your mouth. This book, as the title says, really is "a revolution." It is the missing link the French seem to have sustained but so many Americans have forgotten or never knew, in the wake of mixes, powders and preservatives. There is nothing quite like making every piece of your own lasagne. It becomes a canvas, a joy, and completely consuming as an excercise for the brain. When you spend a few hours making your food, it only seems natural to linger around the table and enjoy it. Piece by piece, it falls into place.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    I really wanted to like this book. I'm a fan of what Alice Waters has done for promoting local, organic, well raised food. I'm planning a vacation that involves eating at her restaurants at least twice. I know from experience that the secret to really good food is to take really good ingredients and prepare them simply, and I try to apply that to my cooking. But I still found this book intimidating and inaccessible. I mean, someone asked her what to cook when you're not trying to entertain eight I really wanted to like this book. I'm a fan of what Alice Waters has done for promoting local, organic, well raised food. I'm planning a vacation that involves eating at her restaurants at least twice. I know from experience that the secret to really good food is to take really good ingredients and prepare them simply, and I try to apply that to my cooking. But I still found this book intimidating and inaccessible. I mean, someone asked her what to cook when you're not trying to entertain eight people, and her list of "everyday" meals includes roast leg of lamb with tapenade, onion and anchovy tart, and braised pork shoulder with shell bean gratin. I don't know about you, but those aren't everyday foods for me. Sure, they fit the "simple" definition if you mean an unfussy preparation. But making chicken salad isn't simple if I have to make my own mayonaise first. What sent me over the top, though, were her instructions on how to cook rice. She presents two methods, both of which are more complicated than the one I and most cooks I know have used our whole lives. I was willing to overlook that if the recipes were appealing, but I didn't see any that I wanted to try right away. The lack of photos was a real detriment for me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    Really should be a part of everyone's basic cooking library. Alice Waters gives plenty of ideas for modifying recipes to what is local and fresh for wherever you are. This makes me feel less like a food-loser when I can't find something for a recipe. Everything still turns out delightful. Sheela - Brussels Sprouts Gratin: Beautiful, special, tasty, crispy, cheesy awesome. Really. Lick the pan good. Me - Pot Roast: Succulent, perfect instructions. Made me feel like almost as good a cook as my Really should be a part of everyone's basic cooking library. Alice Waters gives plenty of ideas for modifying recipes to what is local and fresh for wherever you are. This makes me feel less like a food-loser when I can't find something for a recipe. Everything still turns out delightful. Sheela - Brussels Sprouts Gratin: Beautiful, special, tasty, crispy, cheesy awesome. Really. Lick the pan good. Me - Pot Roast: Succulent, perfect instructions. Made me feel like almost as good a cook as my momis. Molly - Red Pepper Soup: Molly knows her way around soup. This one was a perfect starter/side. So so satisfying. Gretchen - 1-2-3-4 Cake: I think I cut myself off after three pieces. Normally not a big cake eater (sheela's baking is the exception). I found this one really pleasant. I've also done her roast chicken for my husband and me. Idiot-proof and really special-tasting for a simple Sunday standard.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Gatheringwater

    Although it contains a small cookbook within a cookbook, The Art of Simple Food is more of a how-to book, with an emphasis on ingredients and technique, rather than on a comprehensive list of recipes. This is a good book for someone wanting to change their relationship to food because Water's insistence upon quality and integrity encourages thoughtful and appreciative eating. There are, however, some disappointments in this book. Many of these recipes are so simple they can be found nearly Although it contains a small cookbook within a cookbook, The Art of Simple Food is more of a how-to book, with an emphasis on ingredients and technique, rather than on a comprehensive list of recipes. This is a good book for someone wanting to change their relationship to food because Water's insistence upon quality and integrity encourages thoughtful and appreciative eating. There are, however, some disappointments in this book. Many of these recipes are so simple they can be found nearly anywhere; I was hoping for classics with a Waters twist. Some recipes require ingredients that might be hard to obtain. None of the recipes contain nutritional information. A more personal approach would have been nice, too. It isn't quite a cookbook, but it isn't exactly "food writing", either.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Helga Cohen

    This book by Alice Waters is an indispensable resource for home cooks. Alice Waters is responsible for the revolution in the way we eat and cook. Her dishes focus on delicious flavors and reverence for locally produced, seasoned foods. Her emphasis on fresh foods, cooking from scratch, eating family dinners and buying from local growers and dairy/meat farms is great for society and a better place to live. She explains all of this in this book and includes some wonderful recipes.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I just started this last night and I love it. The author, the owner of a lovely, but upscale restaurant, talks about food and cooking in a very down to earth way. Her premise is that anyone can cook and the only things you need are good ingredients (especially fresh local produce/herbs), good equipment (but not necessarily the most expensive), and the basic know-how. All of these things are explained and detailed in her book which reads nicely (particularly at 2:00 a.m. when you're on the couch I just started this last night and I love it. The author, the owner of a lovely, but upscale restaurant, talks about food and cooking in a very down to earth way. Her premise is that anyone can cook and the only things you need are good ingredients (especially fresh local produce/herbs), good equipment (but not necessarily the most expensive), and the basic know-how. All of these things are explained and detailed in her book which reads nicely (particularly at 2:00 a.m. when you're on the couch making sure the new puppy doesn't wake the house!). Her chapters detail the best way to make, do and use: -- four essential sauces -- salads -- bread -- broth and soup -- beans, dried and fresh -- pasta and polenta -- rice -- roasting meats -- frying -- slow cooking -- simmering -- grilling -- omelets and souffles -- tarts, savory and sweet -- fruit desserts -- custand and ice cream -- cookies and cakes After she explains each of these broad subjects (with one or two general recipes to test your new skills), she goes into further detail in the second half of the book with amazing recipes "for cooking every day"

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I'm sure it's a great book and all, but I lost interest immediately after the first few pages because of the misnomer. At first it talks about local and sustainable eating practices which is all fine and good...but then the following names of the recipes and the ingredients/methods required were ANYTHING but Simple. The word I would use is "fancy." But, everyone else who reviewed said the recipes are TOO simple. Are we talking about the same book? Maybe I happened across a few recipes with I'm sure it's a great book and all, but I lost interest immediately after the first few pages because of the misnomer. At first it talks about local and sustainable eating practices which is all fine and good...but then the following names of the recipes and the ingredients/methods required were ANYTHING but Simple. The word I would use is "fancy." But, everyone else who reviewed said the recipes are TOO simple. Are we talking about the same book? Maybe I happened across a few recipes with ingredients I've never heard of? I guess that's what I get for reading a few pages in the front, randomly picking a few in the middle, and then closing the book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    This is an excellent cookbook. True to its title, the recipes are simple and delicious.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mia

    The virtues of simplicity in food preparation...Alice Waters's book is replete with classic recipes that can be prepared and tweaked without much ado. It's a handsome book too...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Steven Peterson

    A few preliminary comments from the author that put the book in context. From the author (pages 4, 5): "This book is for everyone who wants to learn to cook, or to become a better cook. . . . I'm convinced that the underlying principles of good cooking are the same everywhere. These principles have less to do with recipes and techniques than they do with gathering good ingredients, which for me is the essence of cooking." Key aspects of her "philosophy" are printed on pages 6-7, among which are: A few preliminary comments from the author that put the book in context. From the author (pages 4, 5): "This book is for everyone who wants to learn to cook, or to become a better cook. . . . I'm convinced that the underlying principles of good cooking are the same everywhere. These principles have less to do with recipes and techniques than they do with gathering good ingredients, which for me is the essence of cooking." Key aspects of her "philosophy" are printed on pages 6-7, among which are: eat locally and sustainably (use small, local producers as sources of fruits and vegetables, for instance); eat seasonally (a companion rule to the previous one); shop at farmer's markets; etc. The start is nice, in that she lays out what ingredients (herbs, for instance) and equipment should be on hand for effective cooking. One simple example: the author's emphasis at several points on the value of a good supply of fresh aromatic foods to enhance flavors in a recipe (e.g., onions, carrots, and celery). Then, she discusses how to plan menus and entertain friends for dinner. Not recipes, but useful context. The recipe sections begin with a rendering of how to make several essential sauces, including vinaigrette, salsa verde, aioli, and herb butter. None of the recipes calls for rocket science knowledge, but they are well explained and doable. One nice feature--some possible variations on the recipe. E.g., with vinaigrette, she notes that one variation could be to beat in a bit of mustard before you add the oil; alternatively, she suggests that one could a fresh nut oil for the olive oil. There is a nice discussion of sautéing as a technique, with a nice example immediately thereafter (sautéed cauliflower). Another example of technique--poaching. Following the general discussion, she uses an example quite familiar to me: poaching salmon. I have a handful of recipes featuring poached salmon (the fish cooks through, satisfying my family, and still stays moist, satisfying me). There are a sampling of recipes for poultry, fish/seafood, meat, etc. While the recipes are nice, I wish that there had been more. One thing I like in cookbooks is abundant choice! Anyhow, this is a nice reference for those who enjoy cooking; it's probably also apt to be useful to those who don't like much cooking but want some doable and good recipes when called upon to fix up a meal. Worth taking a look at.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Belinda

    This may be the first "cookbook" that I read from cover to cover, which works for it. It's like The Story of Food and How to Cook It. It really says something about how easy it is to get quite removed from our culinary "roots" that when I (and many other people, judging by some of the reviews I've read) began the book, the ultra-simple concepts at first seemed just a bit over my head...kinda "fancy," if you will. That's almost perverse, upon reflection. Waters deconstructs food ALL THE WAY back This may be the first "cookbook" that I read from cover to cover, which works for it. It's like The Story of Food and How to Cook It. It really says something about how easy it is to get quite removed from our culinary "roots" that when I (and many other people, judging by some of the reviews I've read) began the book, the ultra-simple concepts at first seemed just a bit over my head...kinda "fancy," if you will. That's almost perverse, upon reflection. Waters deconstructs food ALL THE WAY back to the very basics, and I mean all the way back. There's no use of canned broth or prepared seasonings or jarred garlic here. Is that more trouble? Well, at first blush, it seems so. But honestly, it just requires a step back, a paradigm shift, a look at food and the kitchen with "new eyes." Where Alice Waters' method is tricky for me is in the planning stage, something that's a huge personal weakness for me anyway. If you're going to be cooking with all fresh ingredients, you're going to have to do more frequent shopping than I'm used to doing, living out here in the boonies like I do--or, you're going to have to grow more yourself, which is something I'm working on. You're also going to have to learn to USE what you have WHEN it's fresh and good--no putting a planned meal off for a later date, because then your ingredients will spoil. Also, if you're going to make, say, chicken soup or vegetable soup, you're going to have to allow plenty of time before that meal for preparing the stock. I have 18 roosters out back, waiting to be sent to "freezer camp," and thanks to a fresh look at cooking, I think I'll wind up getting far more use of them than I otherwise would have!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This is a book for people who cook at home regularly--the recipes are, as advertised, simple and yet not so simple as to be disappointing. The first half of it reviews useful basic techniques such as making salads, simple vegetable soups, and slow-roasting meats. Each section features a few example recipes that show how to implement the technique. The second half of the book is filled with recipes. There's a spying quality to this book--part of its appeal for me is that it feel like I've gained This is a book for people who cook at home regularly--the recipes are, as advertised, simple and yet not so simple as to be disappointing. The first half of it reviews useful basic techniques such as making salads, simple vegetable soups, and slow-roasting meats. Each section features a few example recipes that show how to implement the technique. The second half of the book is filled with recipes. There's a spying quality to this book--part of its appeal for me is that it feel like I've gained access to Alice Waters at home. And yet there was something a tiny bit disappointing in it. I suspect that it's a perfect book for someone who is just learning the basic cooking techniques. But for a more intermediate level cook, most of this is fairly familiar, and if you already own The Joy of Cooking, The Best Recipe, and A New Way to Cook, its territory is already covered. That said, it's a very solid cookbook, and I saw many recipes in it that I want to try. It features a particularly long section on vegetables, which is not too surprising considering that this is Alice Waters, but still exciting.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    Last fall I was obsessed with her ratatouille - and the other recipes in this book are just as good. Marinated Beet Salad, Homemade Sauerkraut, Wilted Chard with Onion. The first part of the book concentrates on getting started - ingredients and equipment. It has a helpful list of recipes that can be made from items generally at hand ("Cooking from the Pantry"). Then there's "What to Cook?" that talks about seasonal menu planning, special meals, and packing a lunch. The next few chapters handle Last fall I was obsessed with her ratatouille - and the other recipes in this book are just as good. Marinated Beet Salad, Homemade Sauerkraut, Wilted Chard with Onion. The first part of the book concentrates on getting started - ingredients and equipment. It has a helpful list of recipes that can be made from items generally at hand ("Cooking from the Pantry"). Then there's "What to Cook?" that talks about seasonal menu planning, special meals, and packing a lunch. The next few chapters handle basic techniques - making a sauce and vinaigrette, putting together a salad, making different types of broths and soups with what's on hand. I have pretty much stuck to the salad and vegetable chapters, but there are many other sections - including ones on meat and desserts (this is not a super-"crunchy granola" type cookbook). I'm not sure I need to own this one until I start entertaining more or have a family to feed, but it'll be a regular renewal at the library and the ratatouille will be a staple next late summer / early fall.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    It's Alice Waters - how could I turn it down? This book seemed to be much ado about nothing, but has grown on me considerably. It's not a glossy-photo-and-recipe book, nor a disguised food memoir. It does have a much more narrative feel that most recipe-by-recipe books; Waters simply talks about particular foods in each chapter, stopping for a recipe when it seems apt. Her personality comes through in full as a result, and if it's a fairly quiet personality, it has authority and assurance to go It's Alice Waters - how could I turn it down? This book seemed to be much ado about nothing, but has grown on me considerably. It's not a glossy-photo-and-recipe book, nor a disguised food memoir. It does have a much more narrative feel that most recipe-by-recipe books; Waters simply talks about particular foods in each chapter, stopping for a recipe when it seems apt. Her personality comes through in full as a result, and if it's a fairly quiet personality, it has authority and assurance to go with it. The other consequence is that insights and brilliant cooking tips are things you stumble upon as you go, rather than being highlighted for easy reference. It's a book you mine slowly, then, instead of flipping through. A valuable visit with a self-recommending author whose love of food comes through at every turn.

  20. 4 out of 5

    kaity

    Light on the recipes, heavy on technique & the Alice Waters philosophy that makes her school of cooking a modern classic. I love the thoughtful & detailed instructions and suggestions for making things that had previously intimidated me. I brought this book home from the library and immediately started making pasta by hand for the first time. It turned out great, and I finished the meal thinking, "Homemade ravioli wouldn't be hard at all!" Also, being a flex-itarian who rarely prepares Light on the recipes, heavy on technique & the Alice Waters philosophy that makes her school of cooking a modern classic. I love the thoughtful & detailed instructions and suggestions for making things that had previously intimidated me. I brought this book home from the library and immediately started making pasta by hand for the first time. It turned out great, and I finished the meal thinking, "Homemade ravioli wouldn't be hard at all!" Also, being a flex-itarian who rarely prepares meat or poultry at home, I can use the back-to-basics lessons on cooking animals. This is not a convenience cookbook but rather one to settle in with on a free Sunday afternoon, experimenting with and refining methods for the joy of it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I got this from the library, and I've already tried two recipes. The recipe for doctoring up olives transformed my too-acidic farmers market olives into a tasty treat, and the one for salsa verde was the perfect excuse to buy (and for once, use!) chervil. It made a delicious sauce for fried eggs this morning. ___ I probably don't need to own this, as the philosophy is similar to Deborah Madison's. Still, it's fun to read the book version of the Chez Panisse spinoff that's down the street from me. I got this from the library, and I've already tried two recipes. The recipe for doctoring up olives transformed my too-acidic farmers market olives into a tasty treat, and the one for salsa verde was the perfect excuse to buy (and for once, use!) chervil. It made a delicious sauce for fried eggs this morning. ___ I probably don't need to own this, as the philosophy is similar to Deborah Madison's. Still, it's fun to read the book version of the Chez Panisse spinoff that's down the street from me. There are a few recipes I do want to try, but that will have to wait until I get it back from the library (again!).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sheri

    I borrowed this from the library. I was intrigued by everything I've heard about Alice Waters. I think I could really learn a lot about cooking from this book (since I'm cooking impaired). But I doubt that the recipes will work for me as I go back to work in the fall and am increasingly pushed for time to make dinners. I love reading about her ideas on buying good equipment and eating seasonally. Unfortunately, not all of us have such access to incredible farmer's markets and must make do with I borrowed this from the library. I was intrigued by everything I've heard about Alice Waters. I think I could really learn a lot about cooking from this book (since I'm cooking impaired). But I doubt that the recipes will work for me as I go back to work in the fall and am increasingly pushed for time to make dinners. I love reading about her ideas on buying good equipment and eating seasonally. Unfortunately, not all of us have such access to incredible farmer's markets and must make do with Safeway, etc for our produce.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    This book is an essential primer for the preparation of simple delicious food from the Slow/Local/Sustainable Food guru herself Alice Waters. Instructions that bring you belong just picking up your organic milk and gourmet pesto at Wholefoods and calling it a day. This book teaches you the fundamentals so you can do it yourself: roasting the perfect chicken, making aioli, pesto, salsa verde, soup, bread, an array of delicious veggies, deserts/tarts and much more. A great reference to have on the This book is an essential primer for the preparation of simple delicious food from the Slow/Local/Sustainable Food guru herself Alice Waters. Instructions that bring you belong just picking up your organic milk and gourmet pesto at Wholefoods and calling it a day. This book teaches you the fundamentals so you can do it yourself: roasting the perfect chicken, making aioli, pesto, salsa verde, soup, bread, an array of delicious veggies, deserts/tarts and much more. A great reference to have on the kicthen counter at all times.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    It's come to my attention that some of you poor suckers don't live in a Mediterranean climate. Get another book, possibly one with tater tot casseroles. But hey, it's an Alice Waters cookbook- it has recipes for actual meals, (The other ones? Get twelve pounds of salmon and some truffles. Set aside eight hours to cook.) and I read it all the way through. Also, I cooked a dinner for m future in laws out of this. They are super fussy, I spent less than $40 and two hours, and it was incredible. It's come to my attention that some of you poor suckers don't live in a Mediterranean climate. Get another book, possibly one with tater tot casseroles. But hey, it's an Alice Waters cookbook- it has recipes for actual meals, (The other ones? Get twelve pounds of salmon and some truffles. Set aside eight hours to cook.) and I read it all the way through. Also, I cooked a dinner for m future in laws out of this. They are super fussy, I spent less than $40 and two hours, and it was incredible. Fantastic. Heavenly.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    The best cookbook I own. Okay, so I haven't made everything in it, but, so far: My own mayonnaise, Salsa verde, focaccia, bread, pasta, salad with blood oranges, poached pears, and incredibly good brined roast chicken. Other stuff, too. This cookbook is a fabulous way to learn how to make basic stuff taste wonderful. I make something different from it every weekend, and everything so far has been a winner and an accomplishment!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    After receiving this as a gift several years ago, I'm finally getting into it. I cannot say enough good things about it. And I don't need to - it's a classic. I will say that this is not a book of recipes; This is a book about how to cook. I'm reading it cover to cover, and I'm convinced that's the only way to do it. Every recipe I've tried has been simple and delicious. Eating locally, letting good ingredients shine...this book is what I'm about. I love it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    My partner and I call this book our "food bible". I have learned so much valuable information about food, how to cook it, and what to buy. If you want to learn how to make food that is simple and delicious, I highly recommend this cookbook. It's also a fantastic tool for developing a skillset since Waters gives detailed explanations on how to cook certain staples.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Payne

    Just bought it at Costco. Ironic isn't it? Don't tell Alice. Love it! I have a million 'simple' cookbooks. For some reason this one is the most inspiring. I want to make fresh pasta, simple tomato sauce, yummy salad dressings...stay tuned to see if I actually do.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    When following the fried chicken recipe, COVER THE FRYING PAN.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jvanlaar

    I think this is a great quality book and would get this for a house warming or bridle shower gift! I personally am a creative cook so I don't often need to start from scratch with ideas for meals, but this book helps to bring everything back to the basics and dives into why staple foods are prepared the way they are and how to kick them up a notch. Not something to just sit down and quickly glance through. It's best to be ready to read a bit through Alice's notes

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