Friday, March 16, 2012

Reading Now: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

Confession: I read Le Cordon Bleu educated chef and author Kathleen Flinn's first book, "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry," a few years ago and loved it so much that I would've bought whatever she wrote next, no matter how good, bad, or unrelated. Fortunately, her subsequent book, "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks," IS both good and also related.

I'm enjoying the same things about it that I enjoyed in the first book--her storytelling, the way she uses words, her sense of humor (I'm currently reading a chapter called, "The Pleasures of the Fish," the name of which alone made me laugh), her sincere love and appreciation for food, her humility, and, of course, the recipes.

I confess,when I first read the flap, which talks about how a chance meeting with a stranger in the grocery store whose cart was loaded up with heavily processed, pre-fab crap items, inspired Flinn to start the experiment that led to this book (she selected nine women who mostly eat frozen or fast food and taught them how to cook), I was worried that I'd be a little bored. Not because the topic's boring--it's not! I love stories of transformation and food--but because I'm already in a heated state of agreement with the premise and principles.

I eat an organic (whenever possible), plant-based diet with fish as my main source of protein. Fast food? Never touch the stuff. Frozen? Nope--I'm the 1950s time traveler who accidentally landed in this era but still loves to cook everything herself.

Yeah, that's right--I actually love to cook. I love everything about it--I love paging through cookbooks, dreaming up menus, shopping at the farmer's market, and cooking everything from scratch. I'm the geek who loves the taste, smell, and preparation of food and most of all, I love to eat.

No judgment on those who don't, but you can understand my concern that I'd be all, "been there...done that...[yawn]" while reading this. Well I needn't have feared. Flinn deftly offers many tips and tricks that I've learned from AND yummy recipes that are accessible to all levels of home cooks. I'm currently excited about a certain tomato and shrimp recipe.

I still love, "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry," the most. But maybe you always love the first book you read by a certain author the most (Loyalty, people! Loyalty!). Or maybe it's just plain hard to compete with a story that takes place in Paris. But that's not a knock against "Kitchen Counter." I'm thoroughly enjoying this second culinary/literary output by this thoroughly talented author and highly recommend it to all.

Note: The American Society of Journalists and Authors awarded "Kitchen Counter" first place in non-fiction/memoir for 2012.What can I say? Can I pick 'em or what?!