Sunday, November 14, 2010

If you don't think this is beautiful then we can't be friends.


As much as I started to strongly dislike Alice Waters after she made some comment about eating local, healthy food being a matter of priority, ignoring issues that might hinder one from eating in such a way (such as accessibility and socioeconomic status and privilege, just to name a few), the woman is good at what she does.
I happened upon her Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook at the Central branch of the Brooklyn Library and had to take it home with me. The book itself is very pretty, even in its tattered library-used condition. There are illustrations and the layout is quite simple, just like Ms. Waters' food. Recipes are straight forward. Simple. Not completely accessible (she says things like "Flame the pan with the Cognac," and even I, a self-proclaimed seasoned cook, am not sure I entirely know what she means by that), but overall, pretty inspirational.
I started browsing the book in the bath last night, and one recipe stayed with me. I thought about it on and off all day. It was the recipe for new potatoes in parchment paper. Easy. Of course. Who would need a recipe for something like that? But, as Ms. Waters explains in the introduction, we have gotten so far away from simple food, that an easy recipe such as new potatoes baked in parchment paper with a touch of butter and fresh thyme can be read as more exciting than it should be. This isn't to say shame on us but, it is to say that Alice Waters brings simple food back, without shaming readers or eaters. Instead, she entices us.
Tonight, with Chez Panisse on my mind, I roasted new potatoes, radish, and turnip with a pat of butter and a few sprigs of fresh thyme from my windowsill. I cut all of the vegetables into about 1" pieces, dispersed three small pats of butter, and laid the thyme on top. I roasted for 30 minutes on 400. The results? Beautiful. In taste and looks. Mission Accomplished.

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