In this very autobiographical cookbook, John Thorne, author of Simple Cooking (1987), shows how learning to cook can become a voyage of self-discovery. The opening pages of Outlaw Cook evoke the slow time of childhood summers in Maine, where he first learned to taste, the secret midnight snacks in bed, where he began to compose meals, and the years as a college dropout on New York's Lower East Side, where hunger and solitude transformed an indifferent meal maker into an outlaw cook.The rest of the book shares his struggle to keep his kitchen a private place, and his consequent culinary rebellion - against food writers who keep filling his head with the chatter of instruction, against parental voices telling him not to play with his food, and especially against a culture that has denatured, compromised, and finally denied the polymorphous sensuality of his appetite.Along the way, he crosses swords with culinary perfectionists, argues against making stock, learns to throw pasta into the cooking pot by the handful instead of the carefully measured ounce, relishes Claude Monet's kitchen, wrestles with a recalcitrant wood-fired bread oven to make a genuinely artisanal loaf of bread, and examines the underside of the "progress" that has given us the food processor and the microwave. He also discovers a body of writing by other outlaw cooks that constitutes an alternative, liberating culinary tradition.Outlaw Cook is written for anyone who ever wanted to go into the kitchen, lock the door, and have some fun. Yes, the book will get you cooking - everything from a wonderful soup made out of fresh pea pods to buttery-crisp potato pancakes to perfect pecan pie - but these pages offer a much wider range of kitchen pleasures. In his suggestively titled essay "On Not Being a Good Cook," the author argues that there are more interesting things to learn about cooking than merely being good at it. Anyone who spends time in his world of startling, illuminating connections - babies with bread loaves, bedsheets with tablecloths, meatballs with exiles, garlic with sex - will come away with a refreshed sense of wonder and delight at one of the most basic of human needs... and some exciting new ways of experiencing it.
- 154.94 x 231.14 x 35.56mm | 657.71g
- 01 Nov 1992
- Farrar Straus Giroux