Saturday, August 25, 2012

One Big Table

That's just one of the cookbooks I'm reading this summer. Yeah, I read cookbooks. This one, in particular, is a great read because there are so many stories within. The book is the result of food writer Molly O’Neill's ten-year transcontinental road trip, undertaken in order to research the prevailing opinion that Americans had stopped cooking at home. The opinion persists in spite of her efforts, but doesn't tell the whole story of what goes on in America's kitchens. This book does. It contains hundreds of recipes from passionate home cooks to four-star chefs (and a few from their mothers). The recipes reflect the diversity of the American palate and the array of foods Americans put on their tables each day.

I traversed the continent myself this summer. I ate roasted trout aboard an Amtrak train between Chicago and San Francisco (the side of watery veg went untouched); salmon up and down the West coast; more than my share of blueberries on Bainbridge Island, WA; Italian cured meats in the soft sand at Jones Beach in New York; and French Vietnamese back home in Chicago at my surprise birthday party. Maybe I ate other meals that were better, but those particular ones, which were enjoyed in the company of those who I hold most dear, are the ones I will remember.

It's been a glorious summer. As it comes to a close, I'm perusing my new books for inspiration. I came across recipes for Beef and Barley Soup, Caramel Frosting, and Malaysian Broccoli that I cannot wait to try. Most of all, I'm looking forward to the days and evenings spent around tables big and small.

That's all.