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Posted January 10, 2008
An outstanding resource for people who love food
This is my 'desert island' cookbook: if I could only have one, I'd take Zuni along. The idea behind the food is simplicity and elegance. The explanations are clear and aren't annoyingly trimmed of important details, as has become the vogue with some recent cookbooks. And the results from my kitchen have never been less that spectacular. As I type, I'm sitting over a bowl of pappa al pomodoro soup, and its silky, steamy, rustic flavors are scrape-the-pot good. This is no soupy mess as so many pappa al pomodoros turn out. No, the Zuni recipe is all about the elemental flavor of tomatoes¿now-sweet and now-tart, bright and fragrant¿slicked and enriched with plenty of good, fruity olive oil and bathing soft, swollen bread. This whole cookbook is planned on that theme: simple ideas, but combined in a way that elevates the whole thing to the divine. That said, this is not a cookbook for cooks interested in making 'good down-home cooking'. This is for people who are a little more serious about the art of food. It helps a lot to already have experience in basic French techniques. You don't have to be a gourmet chef, by any means 'Not at all! I'm just a home cook who likes fabulous food enough to be adventurous', but this is written for the skill level of people who will have a little imagination with the recipes once they've mastered the basics. Complaints of 'not finding exotic ingredients' may be related to this: I don't live in California or the US, but I've found that I can successfully substitute fresh local produce if I'm imaginative, and the basic techniques for the recipes hold true. So don't be afraid to play around! And for goodness sakes, buy this cookbook!
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Posted December 16, 2002