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Recipe for hate.

Nice Adam Gopnik piece in the New Yorker a few weeks back on the confounding popularity of cookbooks. It’s a little scattered, but Gopnik is an enjoyable read and has some Gladwell-ian flashes of insight. The central conceit is a person “reading” a cookbook and folding corners for recipes to make for his family, versus reality--that the leap from cookbook page to meal is giant.
“We say “What’s the recipe?” when we mean “How do you do it?” And though we want the answer to be “Like this!” the honest answer is “Be me!” “What’s the recipe?” you ask the weary pro chef, and he gives you a weary-pro-chef look, since the recipe is the totality of the activity, the real work. The recipe is to spend your life cooking.”

Gopnik doesn’t seem to dislike cookbooks so much as kind of shake his head at them in jaded amusement. He classifies them (prescriptive, descriptive, like grammar), pokes fun at newer versions, which can be shockingly confessional in their effort to differentiate themselves, and tries to analyze their continuing appeal. As an aside, he seems to be saying it’s better to learn to cook at someone’s side, by doing, and also to add more salt, more sugar, and maybe some more cream.

I still want Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home for Christmas.

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