The Splendid Table’s How To Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift

splendid     Many cookbooks published nowadays are intimidating.  The recipes in them are lengthy, with ingredient lists that daunt by their very presence.  And sure, the cooking show hosts that write these tomes make it all look so easy, but trying to make one of their creations at home is a guarantee for a huge mess, more cussing than any kitchen deserves, and a burning.  The sad assumption that most cookbook writers make, I think, is that the reader really knows how to cook.

     On lamenting my own lack of cooking skills, a colleague mentioned the Splendid Table Series on public radio and said that this book would be “highly worth my while.”  Well, it definitely has become so because of its easy tone and conversational style, not to mention the tips, and lots of them!  Sure, there’s tons of scary “gourmet” dishes in here, but the authors do such a wonderful job of explaining the ingredients and suggesting alternatives that you’ll be laughing with yourself as you try new things.  Heck, you’ll be laughing as you read this cookbook, which is entertaining in its own right; it’s a great pastiche of recipes, anecdotes, quotes, sage (no pun intended) advice, and hilarious asides.  I have got to hand it to these ladies for making cooking fun.  And on that note, I’ll mention a couple of other authors and their books that are different from this one to be sure, but similar in that they share the belief that humor and gastronomy do coexist:

What To Cook When You Think There’s Nothing In The House To Eat by Arthur Schwartz – this remains one of my favorite cookbooks and has been for years.  Schwartz writes with a wonderful sense of humor about the meals you can make with what’s on hand.  Get his Scrambled Eggs recipe down pat, and you won’t do it any other way (hey, I have done it successfully, and if I can…).  My only objection with this one is its lack of illustrations, but, then you have to use your imagination, and what’s wrong with that?  Excellent, too, for anyone starting their culinary journey.

Consuming Passions by Michael West – this a fun and funny book, half memoir/half cookbook.  It is very difficult to stay in a bad mood when you start reading it.  And yes, DO try using Red Hots candies when making applesauce – it’s not as crazy as you might think. 

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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