24 February 12 • SCB

Last month I brought home a copy of Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace. I opened it up that evening and read it cover to cover, finishing it in the wee hours of the morning, finding myself both ravenously hungry and immensely satisfied. It is not a cookbook per se, nor a memoir, but instead a sort of celebration of food, of eating and of cooking (the best route to eating). The writing manages to be both entertaining and incredibly straightforward. I found the book simultaneously reassuring and inspiring.

I am someone who cooks because I love to eat, not necessarily because I love to cook. I am not preoccupied by searches for the perfect tool or the most exotic ingredients. I have only a cursory interest in the physics or mechanics of cooking. I like real, whole, unprocessed food, but am otherwise not particularly concerned about the healthiness of ingredients. I want to eat well and within our budget, but don’t look forward to fixing dinner most nights. Still, I found comfort in Adler’s guidance and quite a bit of reassurance in her approach to cooking and eating. Just some of her advice that has lasted with me these past few weeks:

  • Shop weekly for vegetables, then devote a few hours to immediately prepping and cooking them—all of them.
  • Don’t underestimate a good egg.
  • Toast (properly topped) can be dinner.
  • Taste your food as it cooks.
  • A pot of beans is a powerful thing.
  • Keep lemon, brined and pickled things and fresh herbs on hand to brighten up simple foods (or mistakes, see below).
  • Perceived kitchen failures can often be saved.

Happy eating (and cooking)!