Saturday, December 12, 2009

Weekend Cooking: Secret Ingredients

Saturday means Weekend Cooking - a weekly event hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Last week, I made Snickerdoodles before we traveled to a basketball tournament at Williams College (Daughter #1 and the girls loved them!). This week, I thought I'd share my book purchase.

Before Saturday's game, we had time to explore the lovely shops and cafes in Williamstown. My favorite was Water Street Books, which turned out to be the Williams College bookstore. There was quite a bit of activity that morning (kids making Christmas ornaments, books being gift-wrapped, hot chocolate and cookies offered) which, combined with the cozy atmosphere, made me wish I had hours for browsing.

My sole purchase (amazing will-power was exercised, believe me!) was Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink. This has been around for a while, but a paperback edition was recently introduced. Since I love cooking, eating, and The New Yorker, this collection looks like a sure winner!

The essays are grouped in sections including: Dining Out, Eating In, Fishing and Foraging, The Pour, Fiction, and more. Cartoons are also liberally sprinkled throughout the collection.

I sampled "Don't Eat Before Reading This" by Anthony Bourdain, originally published in 1999. It includes such pearls of wisdom as:

"In New York, locals dine during the week. Weekends are considered amateur nights - for tourists, rubes, and the well-done-ordering pre-theater crowds. The fish may be just as fresh on Friday, but it's on Tuesday that you've got the goodwill of the kitchen on your side."

"Most chefs believe that supermarket chickens in this country are slimy and tasteless compared with European varieties. Pork, on the other hand, is cool... Pork tastes different, depending on what you do with it, but chicken always tastes like chicken."

Most of this essay, and much more, was included in Bourdain's book Kitchen Confidential. The audio version is read by the author and very well done. It offers a whole new perspective on dining out!

I hope to occasionally share other essays from this collection in future Weekend Cooking posts.


  1. First, I'm behind in my blog reading so I don't know when you changed your banner photo, but Oh wow! I love it.

    Second, that New Yorker book sounds great. I loved Kitchen Confidential and I remember those bits by Bourdain. I hope you do share some more essays!

    Third, That bookstore sounds fantastic and I am proud of your restraint.

  2. I second Beth F's request to share more of the essays as you read them. This sounds like a great book - and a nice souvenir of a lovely weekend trip.

  3. I truly love good food writing so I hope you can hear the tone of my voice when I say YES - share more of those essays.

    I loved Kitchen Confidential too. I just read it this year and want to read more of his work.

    I bet it felt so good to discover such a nifty little gem like this set of essays. Thanks for sharing.

  4. This sounds like a great book and it sounds like you had a wonderful day.

  5. Hi!
    I have to confess I haven't read any of the authors books. But I will be on the look out for them. Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend!

    Sherrie's Stuff

  6. I totally "heart" Anthony Bourdain. His foodie-travelogues on cable are enthralling. Interestingly, Mr. L-S has read Kitchen Confidential (and loved it, btw); I have not. Yet.

  7. I have heard that about European chickens. I am actually a little afraid to try them, as I will then have to import them to my home from there on out! I actually buy the organic ones; they aren't that bad.

  8. oh, I love Anthony Bourdain too! This sounds like a book I would love to read. I must say I am curious about 'Fishing and Foraging'.

  9. One book??? Way to hold back! Can't wait to hear about this as you read the essays!!

  10. Beth F - Glad you like the photo. There's not much color or sun here this time of year, but I do love having four seasons. A new photo may appear if we ever get the combination of new snow and sunshine...the snow shouldn't be much of a problem!

    Molly - I'll definitely share more of these essays. There are many great authors included, too.

    Margot - I knew immediately that this would be my one book purchase - just couldn't put it back on the shelf. Reading great food writing is the next best thing to eating great food (and no calories!).

    Kathy - A great weekend and a great doesn't get much better!

    Sherrie - Kitchen Confidential was great, but reading the essay really gives you an idea of his message and style.

  11. DS - Wish I could catch Bourdain's show more often (or at least remember to set the DVR). Glad Mr. L-S liked the book. Hope you get a chance to enjoy it, too.

    Sandy - I started getting organic free-range chickens at the farmer's market last summer, and was totally amazed at how much better they are!

    Caite - The Fishing and Foraging section includes titles like "A Mess of Clams", "The Fruit Detective" and "Gone Fishing". I'm intrigued, too!

    Staci - Yup, just one book...but I could have easily bought a dozen! Seems like independent/college bookstores have the most interesting titles.

  12. Saw this at Indigo the other day, it looks wonderful! So glad that you've shared a slice with us.

  13. Darlene - The essays are excellent, but the cartoons alone are worth the purchase price. "shared a slice" it!

  14. I've heard of this, and I've never picked it up...but now I'm going to!!

  15. Jill - I think this is a really outstanding collection...hope you enjoy it!

  16. What a great gift idea for the foodies in my life!

  17. Stacybuckeye - I'm sure every foodie would love this collection!


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