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by Diane Leach

15 Dec 2015


Perhaps you don’t feel sorry for Ruth Reichl. Yes, Gourmet magazine’s former editor was left jobless after Condé Nast abruptly shut the magazine down in 2007. Yet as many Americans were losing everything during that time, Reichl got a generous a severance package, was in good health, and had residences in New York City and in the upstate New York hamlet of Spencertown.

Indeed, her long career in the food world was glorious by any standard: multiply-awarded, well-compensated and highly recognized. But suddenly, all that seemed to be over.

A stunned Reichl retreated to the kitchen, jotting down what became My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life. A memoir, journal, and cookbook chronicling the year after Gourmet’s shutdown, the book is a heartfelt account of losing one’s life work, of mourning a magazine with a 69-year history, of picking up the pieces at age 61.

by Diane Leach

10 Nov 2015


Lovers of both cooking and reading require a steady influx of cookbooks to feed both appetites. But spend enough time cooking and reading, reading and cooking, and soon your appetite becomes increasingly difficult to sate, within the kitchen and without. If you see another meals-in-minutes, another creme fraïche at home, more fun with kale, or God help us all, another Moroccan carrot salad, well, you won’t be held accountable for your actions, now will you? 

How you long for the rare cookbook that’s truly a game changer.

by Diane Leach

26 Oct 2015


“Japanese cooking is a way of walking into Japanese culture. “
—Jane Grigson, The Mushroom Feast

In 2012, Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s first book, Japanese Farm Food, quietly rocked the food world. The California native had followed her interest in Japanese food to its source. Then she met handsome organic farmer Taadaki Hachisu.

Part memoir, part anthropological study, part cookbook, Japanese Farm Food is the work of an intelligent woman integrating traditional Japanese and Western foodways very far from home.

 

by Diane Leach

9 Jul 2015


In 1938, cooking teacher, restaurant proprietress, and vegetarian Fania Lewando published a Yiddish-language vegetarian cookbook. Vegetarish-Dietisher Kokhbokh: 400 Shpeizn Gemakht Oysshlislekh Fun Grinsn or, the Vegetarian-Dietetic Cookbook: 400 Recipes Made Exclusively From Vegetables, was the first Yiddish-language vegetarian cooking manual published Europe.

Shortly after Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Vilna fell under Soviet Union rule. The Nazis invaded soon afterward. We know Lewando and her husband Lazar tried to escape and were caught by Soviet soldiers. They were never heard from again.

by Diane Leach

16 Apr 2015


Spices & Seasons is a mixed offering from home cook and blogger Rinku Bhattacharya. While her love of cooking shines from every page, the book is marred by minimal editing and limited spellchecking. Poor organization stymies willing cooks. Information about spices, alone and in combination, is spread throughout the book. The various subrecipes beneath main entries send readers hunting through the book in the midst of cooking. 

This is all a shame, for Bhattacharya is an earnestly sweet kitchen presence with much to offer. One suspects she carried the production of Spices & Seasons entirely on her shoulders. This would be overwhelming for anyone, much less a married financial professional with two children. Bhattacharya deserves better.

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