The series is in a weird place in between Mind of a Chef (which, in most of its seasons, is a significantly better show) and a more conventional FoodTV cooking show. I think they're trying to do too much in each episode, and also that the travel-show part of each episode works better than the cooking demos do.
The book is better than the show. I have friends that swear by it. I like it fine! It sort of joins a pantheon of "if you're only going to own one cooking book make it this one" books, which would include Bittman's "How To Cook Anything", Ruhlman's "Twenty", the Cooks Illustrated Cookbook, and, I don't know, maybe "Joy of Cooking"?
Of those books, I think Ruhlman's "Twenty" is by far the best. It's similar to "Salt, Fat" in the sense that it breaks cooking down by technique and concept, instead of courses or dishes. But I think it has a more coherent structure, covers more ground, and, while wasting less time on narrative, still manages to establish a conversational tone.
Tells you all the essentials of how to cook meat and veges and make basic sauces and all that, plus has a whole lot of relatively simple recipes that use common ingredients.
I remember my ANZAC biscuits recipe in particular has less butter and more sugar, like you say, and is clearly inferior. A bit sad. However we also have Edmonds: Best of Baking, which is newer than my Edmonds Cookbook, and prescribes more like the old recipe with more butter.
That was some good eggnog
I'm not sure what 1950s eggnog looked like but I'm guessing it was more like the German style Eierlikör (i.e. made mostly with liquor and eggs) than the modern eggnog (i.e. mostly milk and cream).
It’s almost like the Michelin: intended to sell more of a product (tires/flour), but ended up iconic in its own right.
This doesn't mean that you won't find recipes from a foreigen cuisine in them. Most of them are however adapted to the cuisine the book is from.
Sometimes it's a recipe that is basically unknown in it's country of supposed origin (Spaghetti with meatballs).
But often they are only adapted to the different preference in taste, or the different things you will get at the grocery store.
I remember you talking about serious eats somewhere so I'm interested why you didn't include this.
The latter are considered normal & good gifts for kids living on their own for the first time. With the former, it might be one I’d keep if I were only allowed 1 with my experience now, but it’s certainly not the one I’d go with if I knew I could only ever be exposed to 1.
In a similar case of you recalling him mentioning the food lab, I believe it was his mentioning of the podcast “Cooking Issues” that made me a subscriber.
The show is very different from the book. It's a great pleasure to watch, even though I don't feel like I learn anything that improves my cooking. I agree that the cooking demos don't add much. It feels like she isn't as comfortable looking at the camera as she is conversing in front of it, and she's already said everything so well in the book, you might as well skip to the next episode.
I do not know the book the GP mentions about, but the best cookbooks happen to be in languages of the region of India, where the food is consumed. If you can find the English translations of these, that is your best bet. The other option is to buy regionally produced (often no photos, poor print) english books. You need to roll with the ingredients being called as-is, and need to repurpose it.
One such popular book, which has been in print for 65 years, is called "Samaithu Paar" (Loosely "Try to cook"). The original book was in Tamil, but Penguin has published an extract of sorts in English - https://penguin.co.in/book/non-fiction/the-best-of-samaithu-...
On the second school of "poorly produced, but in English" variety, at least for South Indian cooking, I suggest the books of Mallika Badrinath. https://www.amazon.in/Books-MALLIKA-BADRINATH/s?ie=UTF8&page...
Having read a few "award winning" Indian cookbooks, they are largely food-porn variety of books, and I find them bulky and of little use.
I will say one thing about the video series that was refreshing: She learned Italian, and for the most part talks with people who can't speak English. Many cooking travel shows are forced to rely on interpreters, expats, or locals who can speak English, which really limits the expertise and viewpoints that can be shared.
Her enthusiasm about food was pretty contagious. And it was interesting. If there is a complaint, its a little light on the how-to (it isn't "america's test kitchen), and it needed a little more content for the length. I found it interesting to see the Italian attitude to food and also found the "olives" and butcher interesting (as well as the pesto segment..).
But it fell flat for me, maybe because I already have Twenty and a few other books.
I did not find really new concepts, and none of the recipes really jumped out at me and made me want to cook them, I returned the book.
It's fine, really, but I think there are better ones. Twenty for concepts, Ratio for "show me quickly how to do X" and, my special tip, How to Cook without a Book by Anderson.
Just disregard her list of ingredients you should always have in stock, because you'd probably need to convert one of your larger rooms into a pantry. It goes on and on for pages.
But the recipes and the whole presentration is top-notch. Including a short rhyme at the beginning of every chapter that tells you Ratio-like how to do a basic whatever the chapter is about.
If you read German, get Nahrungszubereitung Schritt für Schritt by Schlieper. It's a very thin book, full of illustrations, because it is for school use (including special-needs schools). Very basic. What parts of the beef or pork are there. What kinds of rice are readily available in the supermarket. Basic recipes like pancakes, roux, Bologna sauce. They tell you how to cook pasta.
It's conventional. None of the higher-level stuff like "let your steak rest after cooking" or "more salt into your pasta water". But it's great for all those little things like roux that "normal people" don't do often and forget the details.
I just hope they added a real index in a later edition, because I don't find anything in their botched simulation of an index.
That's not particularly “higher-level”.
Wait, what? You read the book, returned it, and feel no shame in admitting it?
That's actually the reason why Germany has returning rights by law when buying online.
> is there a moral obligation to keep a bad product?
No, but I feel there's a moral obligation to not ask for your money back for a product you didn't like after using it. This of course doesn't apply if the product is faulty/broken such that it can't be used.
Do you do that for other things in your life, like demanding money back after watching a movie you later decide you don't like, or do you just walk out of restaurants without paying if you decide you didn't like the food (after eating it)?
A cultural difference, I guess.
I feel there's in inherent risk in any trade. You rarely know for certain that you'll love what you're paying for, and you should accept that risk.
One shouldn't feel entitled to 100% satisfaction when one makes a purchase, and certainly shouldn't deprive the vendor of money just because you decided after the fact that you didn't like what you bought.
I suppose this is to be expected from people raised in an environment where multi-billion dollar corporations compete for customers and can afford to offer "just because I didn't like it" returns free of charge.
It's foreign to me.
you hit the nail on the head. amazon has a policy where they will let you get a full refund within n days as long as you haven't significantly damaged the item yourself. they're not stupid; they do realize some people will just use the thing a couple times and return it. so they do the math on their end and figure out what kind of return policy they can afford to offer. why wouldn't you take advantage of this? companies only offer this kind of policy because they expect to make even more money because of it.
As an aside, my limited experience with buying "new" books from Amazon is that they are always significantly damaged on arrival.
This is a discussion about returning a product because "it just isn't quite for you."
By providing a returns policy, the vendor is presumably able to generate increased trust and provide sufficient value by doing so, as a customer may not have made the purchase at all without a returns policy.
And why should the consumer accept that risk and not the vendor?
If OP had bought the book from Samin Nosrat selling her own book out of a stall, I highly doubt he'd return the book a week later demanding his money back just because he didn't like what he read... that'd be a shitty thing to do. The reason he felt no shame in this was because there was a faceless corporation between him and the author.
Full detail can be found at https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/consumers/shopping/gua...
Returns generally can be, and usually are, sold again as new unless damaged or returned for defect, AFAIK.
which culture do you think you're a part of that i'm not? just curious.
>After you've used it, absolutely. I wouldn't dream of using something I paid for and then demanding money back after I've used the item.
so cars that have defects that have been used shouldn't be subject to recalls?
EDIT: People read books that I write and return them all the time saying they suck / it wasn't for them / etc. That's kinda the point of a return policy. I don't take it poorly.
Having 50 or so pages dedicated to salt is great. Knowing when to salt something and what effect it will have on the food is particularly useful. Effective brining and salting is critical to cooking.
I didn’t care too much for the show. Just unremarkable imo. But the book is great.
If I don't plan and cook my meals like this, then I end up either spending an hour plus to make a new dinner every weeknight, or getting lazy and frying up some eggs, or making a huge batch of whatever and reheating the same thing again and again. It's been such a timesaver during the week, I really wish more recipes & cookbooks were formatted like this.
>>> ... seem unaware of their privilege ... ask you to buy near industrial quantities of certain expensive ingredients. Worse, there’s often no suggestion as to alternatives if the budget cannot quite stretch to a kilo of black raspberries ... painfully unconscious of this element to their book ... an expressly upper middle class lifestyle cookbook.  <<<
I usually discount criticisms of privilige but in this case of a cookbook it seems to be synonymous with expensive.
Anyone know of other books or resources along similar lines?
On a sidenote, this made me realise Food52 is back online for me; it used to be down with a GDPR apology page, I stopped checking after a while.
My own theory is that many more men are into cooking nowadays, so the market for cooking-related things may have expanded up to 100%. Also, car ownership is becoming a burden rather than fun, and new home ownership is becoming unaffordable, therefore conversation about something everyone has in common has shifted from cars and homes over to cooking.
Instagram is a huge factor in the rise of foodie-ism. If you are what you eat then you can use pictures of food as a form of self-expression. Picture of a dish at a quirky new restaurant? You're adventurous and on-trend. Made a sourdough bread from scratch? You're artisanal and authentic.
We also have to consider that 'cool food places' is one of the biggest draws that have led people to move into big cities in the past 15 years. Young people are ditching chain restaurants for hipster authenticity. Fetishising the latest Pho place as being more authentic than the last is one way to demonstrate your competence in the urban marketplace of food choices. Which leads on to the phenomenon of 'review-ism': how we now depend on internet reviews to decide where to go.
The other thing wrt television... old cooking shows were boring. Throw in a dose of reality tv, make it exciting, and people will watch. It's also one of the few tv shows where a person could pretty reasonably recreate it, probably simplified, within their own home.
Food and cooking lost a lot of value in our culture for many years. We started optimizing around the wrong things (fast and easy - cooking is a struggle!) and then again after more wrong things (lets replace fat with extra salt and processed foods!). And only lately has the idea of “fresh and seasonal” started to become more mainstream - again. Where as before the War it was what people did because it was how it was.
There’s a lot of good cooking in the USA that just vanished from before the War. Very localized dishes, lots of stews. Some old cookbooks reveal how much we’ve changed and have also reclaimed old values.
This digging up of pre-industrialized food cherry picks the best of each area and uses higher standards for food quality and safety (that would have been unfeasible generations ago).
I'm not knocking regional food, I'm glad this is happening and love to see and try new things. I hate seeing the US covered by the same handful of chain restaurants.
We've come full circle now where inefficiently producing and purchasing high quality ingredients and having the time and resources to cook them is now the higher class activity VS the efficient processed food sold to the masses.
Notice how most of these cooking shows rely on eye popping photography and visuals, which have become that much more prominent with better and better smartphone cameras.
With above 2 factors in place, it's not surprise that there is an explosion in cooking related media and shows.
Contrast this with potentially other entertainment categories which cannot be posted very easily on social media, like learning piano or guitar etc.
Makes sense, I guess.
You can set it to just one meal if you want (and something like 600 calories) and keep regenerating it until it looks like something you'll like. I started it because I'm terrible at thinking about what I want to eat :)
However, I follow a vegetarian diet (as in 95% of my intake is vegetables, legumes and grains), and the generator is having trouble composing meal plans. It says so if you click on Details next to the calorie target. The picked meal plans differ from the carb/fat/protein targets significantly, and the meals are all uncooked: salads, smoothies and deserts. So the vegetarian "menu" doesn't really work, unfortunately.
I thought that the database is severely skewed towards animal-based diets, but if I pick "anything" in the diet menu, I still get mostly salads, sandwitches, scrambled eggs, and stuff like yogurt, nuts, cheese slices, with some meat and eggs here and there of course. What stands out is that most things seem to require very little preparation. Is this tool oriented towards people unexperienced in the kitchen? Or maybe people who don't want to spend time preparing food? That's a nice option to have, but to only have recipes like that is a bit strange. Also, since I was told by a physician I should avoid raw vegetables and eat them well cooked (I used to eat raw or minimally cooked in the past), at least 3/4 of the suggested meals are no-go for me.
You're right that the default settings are pretty skewed towards simple meals. We need to make these options more prominent I think, but if you click the 3-dot menu next to a meal's title, you can change the allowed prep-time and desired "meal complexity".
The meal complexity has a huge impact on what recipes are available, and if you bump a couple meals up to moderate or complex, you'll get a lot more variety. Let me know if that improves things at all for you (I think a lot of the more interesting vegetarian/vegan dishes probably fall under a higher complexity setting).
There's a lot of customizability, but it's been a long-time problem of ours figuring out how to make all the options intuitive to find/use without overwhelming the user. If you dig into it any more, let me know if you have any other feedback!
Some feedback / feature requests:
My family is 4 - a 4 yr old and a 1 yr old in the mix. They eat what we eat.
So, I put in one meal for 1800 calories, which is roughly dinner for two adults and half dinner for two toddlers. Ideally, one adult would have enough leftovers for lunch the next day.
The main results I got included egg dishes or oatmeal, so very breakfast heavy. The option to choose meal type would be great!
Planning our family dinners is a significant friction point in our lives - we have a very difficult time thinking about what we will want, getting the food ordered (we primarily do grocery delivery), and getting it on the table quickly (we pick the kids up from care at 6, do the playground, and then quick cook to try to have family dinner 7-730. This resource has so much potential to remove or minimize that friction and I really appreciate it!
At the moment, you can set an integer multiplier on a meal to have it scale up the ingredients (it's the Family Scale setting on the Meal Type). However, it will still be based on your own nutrition targets, and you might want to set it for 3 people and split one serving between your two kids.
If you wanted something more targeted for each of your family members, would it still be appealing to you the planner said something like "You eat one serving, your wife 0.8 servings, and each of your kids 0.4 servings", with some gram weight measurements, or are exact nutrition targets not super important for your needs?
Best of luck!
But I think you'll want to explore cookbooks with two different approaches. I got 2 recommendations...
* Opinionated -- "The Art of Simple Food" by Alice Waters. This is a comprehensive cookbook covering many different recipes with words on technique and lots of background about the ingredients and how to use them effectively. It doesn't make assumptions or gloss over stuff.
* Ingredient-focused -- "Market Cooking" by David Tanis. This focuses on recipes using ingredients that one finds in farmer's markets. I like this approach because it is a smart idea to start with what is good/fresh and available in your location first, and then find recipes for it, than the other way around.
Both of these will give some guidance about what goes with what in terms of flavor and ingredients.
You can also easily search the back catalog of recipes if you don't fancy the current week's meal plan.
I got Perth, Australia, found a restaurant, found the menu, and found this entree: "Chicken Breast filled with Camembert Cheese & Spinach. Served with Mediterranean Vegetables, Pear potatoes, Broccolini & Sun-Dried Tomato Coulis".
Its a y combinator company and does meal planning online.
If you have some diet restrictions its useful. I does seem to grocery list/ knows what you should have in stock (digital pantry based on your shopping list). We've been using it a couple years now (after dealing with the overflowing vegetables from a CSA) and its been good. Lost a little weight too.
I highly recommend checking out some of his videos here https://www.youtube.com/foodwishes
Food Lab gets much deeper into the chemistry and the why / how than the TV series. I was kinda hoping for some more direct cooking guidance rather than having my appetite whet by the show, but it was still fun to watch.
The book is super informative and useful for thinking about how to build dishes that will taste good. The show seems more like a food travel show that is semi based around on of the items.
Both are good, but if you were impressed by the show, the book will blow you away.
I look at the book as being full of low hanging fruit. The salt chapter alone has improved my cooking tremendously, and I thought I was already fairly aware of salt before I read it. It made me more bold with something I thought I already knew.
The acid chapter took away any shame I had about loving sour cream and ketchup, which was worth the read in and of itself.
I liked the travel show style of the show, and really liked how she built up the concepts in the focaccia recipe. As educational programming, it was superb. By the time she actually makes the focaccia the viewer has a love/appreciation for every single ingredient.
I don't think I've had such a visceral jealousy of someone eating on tv as I did when they bit into that focaccia.
The point she's trying to make, I think, is that the recipe anchors the region, the cuisine style, the way of life, and the meal it is enjoyed with. This was done beautifully. I will always appreciate focaccia more in the future for it.
Despite traveling pretty extensively, I somehow never noticed this.
For those that are as lost on this as I am, it looks like this is a result from the compression of meals from 5-15 courses down to the more standard 1-3. At the time, entree would not match its current use anywhere in the world - your meal would have both fish and a roast, and the entree would be the course in between the two. Something like chicken, lobster, ragu, etc.
When meals became less elaborate affairs, a lot of food items that would historically be the entree became acceptable to be the main course. In France and much of the English speaking world, to keep what was called the entree more in line with the French meaning of the root word (Apparently, specifically the entrance to a theater or musical performance), it became what Americans would call a starter or appetizer. America and most of Canada instead kept the word in line with the type of food item being consumed, which had shifted the previous pre-roast courses to being the primary course.
And no one uses it how it was originally used in France, to refer to a stage and related set of courses for the dinner, rather than for any one course.
(Sorry for the tangent, but hopefully this clears up the confusion for anyone else reading this)
Can there be anything on the internet WITHOUT injecting social justice talking points into it? What the fuck does the quality of food have to do with my skin color?
Has tech gone too far??