Learning to Cook
Sunday, May 30, 2010
The Splendid Table used to be on on Sundays at noon on my local NPR station, and for a long time I couldn’t listen to it because it drove me nuts, it can be just so pretentious, but then either I got used to it or it got less pretentious (or I got more pretentious? hmm…) and I started listening to it most weeks and then they changed the time and it’s now in the middle of something else I’d rather listen to so I don’t listen to it anymore.
But back when I was listening to it, someone called in during the Q&A portion of the show and said she was a really bad cook, nothing ever turned out right for her, but she really wanted to learn and wondered if Lynne Rossetto Kasper had any suggestions for basic cookbooks for beginner cooks.
I was standing in the kitchen saying, “Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham! Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham!” like it was Jeopardy or something — Baton Rouge, Cindy, Baton Rouge! — but Lynne Rossetto Kasper said, “How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.” And I said NO! Wrong Answer!
Nobody ever listens to me.
Especially when I am in my kitchen and they are on the radio.
But I decided that around graduation season I would put up a post telling people that if they want to get something useful for any graduates in their life, they should get Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham.
The book emerged from a series of classes Marion Cunningham taught for people who wanted to learn how to cook but knew absolutely nothing. She field tested all the recipes on the people in the class and revised and clarified based on things they had problems with or questions they had. So everything is explained in remarkable, painstaking, excruciating detail, yet it is not at all condescending. It’s like having some very nice neighbor take you under her wing and tell you everything you need to know and give you a whole bunch of really great, simple recipes that cover the basics across a range of things you might want to make — appetizers, soups, salads, meat entrées, a whole section on chicken (called “Thank Goodness for Chicken”), meatless main courses, salads, desserts.
I really love this cookbook and I can’t recommend it highly enough.