The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Flinn. Viking. 2011. Review copy from publisher via NetGalley. Holiday reads. Here at Tea Cozy, holiday reads aren’t books about holidays; they’re grown up books for grown up readers to indulge in over the holidays
It’s About: Cooking! Flinn, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu, sees a woman in the foodstore stocking up on preprocessed and frozen meals and convinces her to try a few easy, simple substitutes. This leads her to wondering people don’t cook more and why they rely on prepackaged food; Flinn then puts together a group of people who don’t cook, for various reasons, and conducts a series of lessons starting with the right way to use a knife. Will they be transformed into fearless home cooks? Will the reader be?
The Good: I like reading about cooking much more than I like to actual cook. As I once said to someone, I shelve my cookbooks next to my fantasy books. (No, not really. I sometimes exaggerate, but you get the point.)
Flinn’s book is part memoir, part how-to, part recipe, part history. Yes, she wants to know why people don’t want to cook when it’s just as easy to cook; but she is also wondering what she’ll do next with her life.
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School didn’t insult me. Sometimes, when people talk about the benefits of home cooking over store bought or preprocessed, they include the opinion that baking or cooking is morally superior than store-bought or packaged. Flinn did not do that; her argument is that it is just as easy to do it yourself, with the additional bonus of being cheaper and healthier and tasting better. These are the things that sway me.
I mentioned history: the history of prepackaged food is fascinating. Reading The Kitchen Counter Cooking School makes me want to find out more about the history of food and cooking;
Will this turn me into a fearless home cook? Well, I don’t always agree with some of Flinn’s conclusions. Fear isn’t a reason I don’t cook; time and energy is. Familiarity, too; something is “easy” once you’ve seen it done, and do it yourself, which is why Flinn’s lessons were successful. Following a recipe for the first time adds time and lessons the “this is easy” element.
Did this book inspire me? Heck, yes! I want to go get some good (yet not terribly expensive) knives. I want to experiment with the simple pasta sauce and salad dressing recipes in the book.
Any recommendations for other books about food and cooking?