Buy the bookAn Everlasting Meal:
Cooking with Economy and Grace
by Tamar Adler

The members of 18 Reasons Food Lit voted to read this one ages ago. But we were hanging on, hoping that the author would attend our meeting the next time she visited San Francisco. Finally we gave up and read it this month.

Discussion Questions

Group members' reception of this book was surprisingly varied. Some were put off by Adler's attempt to recreate one of MFK Fisher's masterworks - How to Cook a Wolf. Some were unhappy with the forward by Alice Waters - too precious. Some didn't like the cooking lessons - too simplistic. But overall, most of us enjoyed it and took her management strategies for handling dinner (and lunch and breakfast) to heart. More of our ovens were busy roasting vegetables and making stock this month than ever before.

Personally, I didn't really see the emulation of MFK Fisher until after I'd heard Adler speak about it directly: the two books are just so different.  In her promo movie for Simon and Schuster she lays it out, "I always felt like a book had to come out that did for other people what How to Cook a Wolf did for me...I've felt that for as long as I can remember. That that book had to get translated, to right now."

And An Everlasting Meal does a good job of that. Here, partially in her words about MFK Fisher and partially in mine about both authors, is what I think they accomplished. "By writing about food, from a perspective that was inside of it, as opposed to outside of it," Fisher and Adler show how the real spirit of cooking is in the journey from ingredients to meal, not in one or the other alone. "The point is to be able to make something great with what you have," Adler says. Good technique, or the alchemy that makes cooking work, is what makes a great meal. Perfect produce, complicated recipes and fancy settings are not required.

So in the end, yes. I think Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal does successfully reinterpret How to Cook a Wolf for a modern audience. And now I have to go back and re-read the wolf book. Right after I get my next batch of vegetables in to roast.

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