In this collection of essays, John Thorne sets our to explore the origins of his identity as a cook, going ?here? (the Maine coast, where he?d summered as a child and returned as an adult for a decade?s sojourn), ?there? (southern Louisiana, where he was captivated by Creole and Cajun cooking), and ?everywhere? (where he provides a sympathetic reading of such national culinary icons as the hamburger, white bread, and American cheese, and sits down to a big bowl of Texas red). These intelligent, searching essays ...
In this collection of essays, John Thorne sets our to explore the origins of his identity as a cook, going “here” (the Maine coast, where he’d summered as a child and returned as an adult for a decade’s sojourn), “there” (southern Louisiana, where he was captivated by Creole and Cajun cooking), and “everywhere” (where he provides a sympathetic reading of such national culinary icons as the hamburger, white bread, and American cheese, and sits down to a big bowl of Texas red). These intelligent, searching essays are a passionate meditation on food, character, and place.
With an appetite for accuracy to match his appreciation of food at its purest (an issue of form as well as content), John Thorne (Outlaw Cook) tracks down the origins of dishes that have captured his heart and imagination along with his palate. He is aided here by his wife, who with him edits the quarterly newsletter Simple Cooking, in which the majority of these essays were originally published. The Thornes travel mainly in three regional food-ways: New England's pioneer and Atlantic coast cooking, with a focus on Maine, where they have lived since the mid-1980s (in a section titled "Here"); Louisiana's Cajun tradition (in the section "There"); and Texas's cowboy heritage of chili, barbecue and cornbread (in "Everywhere," which includes brief looks at hamburgers, white bread and other all-American inventions). Besides recipes (e.g., Green Pea Pie and a variety of chowders in "Here"), the authors deliver thoughtful, informed and opinionated disquisitions on their subject, whether that is jambalaya, chili (16 recipes chart its development, the first from an 1880 cookbook) or a global history of dishes composed of recipes based on rice and beans. If these essays were recipes, they'd yield a rich and utterly unbalanced table of dishes likely to start readers thinking seriously about their own gustatory identities. The bibliography is better than dessert. (Nov.)
Sweeping from the coast of Maine to New Orleans, this book blends food history and lore with personal reflections on the role certain dishes have played both in a geographical region and in one cook's life. Thorne, the author of Outlaw Cook (LJ 11/15/92) and publisher of a newsletter on food, delves into topics as varied as the origin of cornbread in American culture and the nuances of Cajun and Creole cooking. Recipes from blueberry pudding to crab rolls spice up the text, and the author also includes some of his favorite mail-order sources for specialty ingredients such as cornmeal. Some readers may recognize portions of Serious Pig, which have appeared, in slightly different form, as magazine articles. Rather than being just a collection of recipes, this is a book that not only informs and entertains readers but leaves them hungry as well. Highly recommended, especially where the author's other books are popular or where there is patron demand for fine writing about food.-John Charles, Scottsdale P.L., Ariz.