The internal workings of a kitchen, with all its ingredients, equipment, fire and recipes, can sometimes be as mystifying and complicated as what goes on under the hood of a car. And the cook in charge, whether in a professional or home setting, must be a veritable mechanic with the tasks of coordination, safety, science and design squarely balanced on his or her shoulders. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a disciplined yet supportive voice whispering terse guidelines in your ear to glide you through the challenges that you might face at your stove? Well, now there is.
Written in a crisply concise, bulleted style, “Notes on Cooking: A Short Guide to an Essential Craft” by Lauren Braun Costello and Russell Reich, reads like The 217 Commandments of Cooking with nary a recipe to be found. Punctuated with food philosophy (“ 10 - Your soul is in your food.”) as well as dogmatic directives (“48 - Date and label perishables.”), this slim volume is fat on the kind of culinary wisdom that once contemplated, cannot help but often illuminate, validate and resonate, regardless of your level of expertise and interest. Novice cooks will particularly appreciate the fundamentals which dominate the book, such as stocking a larder, handling a blade, and controlling temperatures; the bullet-point format naturally lends itself to the basic principles that all cooks need to know. More experienced cooks will already be well versed in these tenets, but will enjoy, among other artistic elements, the leisurely delight of winding through a “word association” round robin of flavor affinities (“...balsamic vinegar & strawberries, strawberries & cream, cream & garlic...”) to spark their creativity beyond the well-mastered meal. As pleasurable to read as it is practical, "Notes on Cooking" is all about the little bites that you can really sink your teeth into.
And now, two lucky readers will be able to sink their teeth into a complimentary* copy of the book, generously provided to me by the authors, and includes worldwide shipping. Please leave a comment by 11:59 p.m. New York time on Saturday, June 27, to be included in a random drawing. The winning names which will be announced Sunday, June 28. To those who routinely comment anonymously, please include your first name so that your identity can be distinguished. Personal friends and family are not eligible to win.
*N.B. - This post marks the first official product review where I have accepted merchandise (the review copy and the giveaway copies). I agreed to review this book after carefully considering whether it would be valuable to my readership. My approach was unbiased, even clinical. At no time was I obliged to write a favorable review. As an established blogger with a substantial readership, I am routinely approached by public relations firms and other marketing agents to position products and services on The Well-Seasoned Cook. I will continue to be highly discriminating in my selections and pledge to maintain transparency in all transactions.