BOOK: Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
AUTHOR: Laurie Colwin
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1988
Reading Home Cooking (and its companion volume, More Home Cooking, published in 1993) is like eating the best kind of comfort food. The kind Laurie Colwin writes about (and for which she provides recipes) are things like beef stew, fried chicken, potato salad, potato pancakes, chocolate cake, gingerbread, biscuits, and so forth. Your list may look completely different, but that’s not the point.
You don’t read Laurie Colwin to learn how to cook (although you might, and it just might work). You read Laurie Colwin because of the stories she tells: of cooking in a tiny NYC apartment, of eating to cure a hangover after a disgraceful night, of slow and glorious meals, and of getting something decent to put on the table after a busy day at work. She writes about feeding crowds, and feeding a date. She gives advice for how to manage a dinner party without losing your mind. And that it’s time to go out for hamburgers when your attempt at home cooking is not a success.
She’s philosophical about ghastly dinners at other people’s homes: “Because you are better for your horrible meal: fortified, uplifted, and ready to face the myriad surprises and challenges in this most interesting and amazing of all possible worlds.”
She encourages experimentation: “We learn by doing. If you never stuff a chicken with pate, you will never know that it is an unwise thing to do, and if you never buy zucchini blossoms, you will never know that you are missing one of the glories of life.”
Sadly, Colwin died unexpectedly from a heart attack in 1992, when she was only 48. (More Home Cooking was published posthumously.) I do wish she’d been around for the last few decades. I would dearly love to know what she would have had to say about all of the food trends and fads she missed. Alas, we only have these two slim volumes of her food writing to comfort us in her absence…but they’re like delightful missives from a dear friend, charming and encouraging. They’ll make you want to eat, want to cook, and want to live well, and they’re just perfect on a dreary winter day, like a bowl of hot soup or a cup of cocoa.
RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 3 1/2 Whistles
HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon
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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.
Laura can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lead-In Image Courtesy of Radachynskyi Serhii / Shutterstock.com