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Good Eats

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The best food book I have bought since I got the Joy of Cooking thirty years ago: Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here for the Food. If you could only have two books to teach you how to prepare good food, this pair would be my choice. Brown begins with discussions of such basics as salt, water & heat & concludes with apendices that cover cuts of meat (with maps of the animals) & how to buy & maintain knives. In between, he discusses cooking methods & even offers some recipies. The large format of the book (9.5 x 9.5 inches) leaves plenty of room for sidebars that take the reader from the making of cast iron to the application of teflon to non-stick pots. Some of this may seem to appeal only to the food geek–a designation I’d happily share with Mr. Brown–but they turn out to be useful in building the knowledge of food & cooking that the book is intent on imparting to its reader. By offering detailed descriptions of the major methods of cooking–form searing to boiling & everything in between, Alton Brown seeks to enable the home cook to make his or her own food in his/her own way. I’m the type of cook who consults recipies to get the gist of the process, but then I go my own way. I’m not an anarchist & neither is Alton Brown, but both of us see cooking as something one does in the physical world. Which is why all the descriptions of food science & technique & method are so fascinating–to me, anyway. If you love the process of cooking as much as the end product, then this is a book you will, er, savor. Alton Brown’s title has an insouciant ring to it, but consider the reference of the word here in the title; has a kind of metaphysical ring, doesn’t it?

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