How to Cook Like a Man: A Memoir of Cookbook Obsession by Dan Duane is an adventure in the art of fine cooking by a San Francisco surfer and climber who needed to find something constructive to do at home. He is depicted as inept at many, if not most, household tasks. He liked a few favorite meal preparations, like pasta. His adventures in cooking took him through some very trying times as well as high points as a novice chef.
Duane marveled at the food preparation of a noted biographical favorite. Chef Alice Waters was an accomplished chef and had been his preschool teacher decades earlier. During his initial experimentation with cooking, he opened up one of Chez Panisse’s cookbooks and experienced many subsequent years of fine food preparation.
Some of his notable experiments were with peas and asparagus blanched in water. He tried artichokes stewed at a low temperature in hot olive oil. Other preparations included buttermilk fried chicken, prime rib hamburgers, and lettuce with bleu cheese. Bertolli’s fish and shellfish soup were favorites, together with New England seafood and an earthen casserole.
Duane has very specific advice for readers. He believes that each person needs to trust intuition and personal taste. Cooking itself is not following a recipe too slavishly. The art involves process, attentiveness to detail, and some experimentation with a personal touch at times. In addition, the art involves the power to soothe, focus, and redeem oneself through the prism of a constructive hobby or endeavor.
How to Cook Like a Man is no ordinary cookbook for people to follow faithfully “by the numbers.” The author combines storytelling with cooking techniques and popular recipes. If you can be patient with the extensive storytelling, the book, written in a light literary style with some distracting colloquial usage throughout, might have something significant to offer you.