An Everlasting Meal – Tamar Adler

An everlasting meal : cooking with economy and graceAn Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Grace & Economy by Tamar Adler
Age: Adult
Genre: Cooking, Food Essays
Source: My Copy
Publisher: Scribner, 2011
ISBN: 9781439181874, 250 pages
Find this book at your local library

To say that I was disappointed with this book would be a major understatement. I found this book to be mostly irrelevant although a few sections did provide a few key ideas for me. Although the title states it’s a how to on cooking economically, don’t think of this as a place to go for cost-cutting tips. On the contrary, much of Adler’s advice is towards high quality foods that are often well above an average person’s grocery budget. By economy, she means not wasting any food that enters the home. This includes onion peels.

By economy, Adler means making the most of every single food item that you buy. Ok, so this something that I am interested in learning about. The chapters discussed various aspects of cooking, from boiling veggies, to cooking with fish, meats and desserts. There is also a pretty lengthy section on cooking with beans and grains that I found to be interesting. The problem for me was that I couldn’t find anything new of inspiring in this book. There was nothing written in this book that I hadn’t read on some random food blog, or Martha Stewart magazine in the past 2 years. It’s a plus that all this information is in one places, but she mostly just touches upon a few narrow ideas rather than provide any tips that I can put into practice.

The only good resource I got from this book is to cook all the vegetables I buy at the farmer’s market in one day, and then mix them into meals throughout the week. Although a very good idea, I really wish I hadn’t paid $15 for it. I also appreciated her devotion to the idea of simple cooking. A sumptuous and filling meal does not have to be a big, elaborate ordeal. I like how she simplifies the meals which in turn simplifies the art of cooking.

The other irksome aspect of this book is that Adler is at times preachy and bossy. Sentences like “An omelet is the egg’s comeuppance”, “children must shell peas” and “you must make rice pudding with leftover rice” were scattered throughout the book and felt very strict and to over the top for me. Oh, and her love of salt. Good grief. The amount of salt she was adding to every single item of food was giving me heart palpitations.

This book is really more of a love letter to the philosophy of cooking, not so much a practical how-to-guide. Adler is gifted with her writing style, although some parts ran on for too long, and some chapters ended too soon (the chapter on canning. I wish she had provided more examples and advice on that one). I had high hopes for this book, but it really wasn’t worth the investment for me.

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