I have a package!...
..not like that; get your mind out of the gutter.
My Amazon.com order came this morning, filled with plenty of reading to keep me entertained over the next couple weeks (Ok months, but who’s counting).
At first glance, and from what I've gathered from notes and clips, Michael Ruhlmans' new book, Elements of Cooking, is one (Professionally Trained)Mans look at the kitchen essentials. What you need, what you want, and what must should have is listed in the book... but not in the manner I imagined!
The bulk of Ruhlmans books I have read have, to date, been behind the scenes first person looks into the culinary world. Making of a Chef and Soul of a Chef both took an almost outsiders view of someone being plunged headlong into the culinary world.
Looking at Elements of Cooking I thought to myself "Ohhhh, a deeply opinionated piece about the basics!", what it IS on the other hand is a mix between short opinion piece and reference book.
The first 50 odd pages are a step by step look at what elements are used in a professional kitchen, from Sauces to Finesse, which he calls "The Cooks Finest Challenge and Path to Ultimate Rewards". Makes it sound like a Holy Grail for cooks right? Well he’s not far off.
Starting on page 51 we're treated to another 192 or so pages of in-depth definitions of terms used in professional kitchens across the globe. If your not a trained cook and don’t know what A al Minute means, your in luck its there. Alginate? there. Definition of Recipe? yeah its there.
You’re probably saying "Wait, what? Recipe? everyone knows what a Recipe is." You’re probably right everyone does know what a recipe IS, but what Ruhlman does is give us a look inside his head, which is like looking inside some of the best chef’s heads across the country/world.
"Recipes: Recipes are not assembly manuals. You can't use them the way you use instructions to put together your grill or the rec room Ping-Pong table...."
Need I say more?
This book goes far beyond Reference Manual and is the wonderful love child of experience and knowledge. Its like having a copy of The Food Lovers Companion, just more opinionated. After the unfortant passing of Companions' Author, Sharon Tlyer Herbst, I'm almost relieved another form of reference has immerged.
With Christmas/Hanukah/Winter Solstice on the horizon, this book would make a perfect gift for anyone who loves and cares about cooking.
And might I add a tear jerking Acknowledgement to fellow blogger and all around nice guy Bob del Grosso in the back. Ok, maybe Tear Jerking was a little much, but it’s a nice few words about the guy.