April 10, 2010 by sandwichcontrol

There is possibly nothing I enjoy more than getting up late on a weekend morning and making myself Papa sandwiches. Well, I guess I enjoy Pancake Land’s company more than Papa sandwiches, but they are a very close second.

This week was a good week for me and a bad week for my self-inflicted book buying ban. I received two books from Le Duke and La Duchess for my birthday. They got me The Kitchen by Nicholas Freeling and Down and Out In London and Paris by George Orwell. These are two books recommended to me by Anthony Bourdain via The Nasty Bits. He says that there are four books that people who cook should read. Those two being two of the four. The other two being Flash in the Pan by David Blum and The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola. The second two are on my Wishlist if there is anybody out there who is terribly guilt ridden over not getting me anything.

In addition to the two books I received from the fair nobles of Lippincottonia and Cancon, I received the first of my cookbooks that Pancake Land and I ordered to round out my kitchen library. I received The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan. Imagine the Italian cooking version of Mastering the Art of French Cooking(which should be arriving this coming week) and  The Joy of Cooking. These three books are, to me, the holy trilogy of modern cookery. If I manage to discover their equivalents in Asian and Latin cuisine, then I’ll up it from a trilogy to pentology, but in the mean time it shall remain a trilogy.

The Classic Italian Cookbook is just that, an Italian cookbook. It is written both as a book of recipes and as a textbook. It includes the history and preparation technique for classic Italian fare. I had heard rumor of the, dare I say, snobbery of Italian cooks when it comes to making risotto, but I had never really believed it. Now I do. The chapter on risotto starts out by telling you that if you have only eaten restaurant “risotto” and have never actually eaten it made fresh by an Italian cook, then it was probably not risotto. It was probably just rice pilaf. Or as we say in the US of A, Rice-a-Roni.

They say that a person could easily devote their life to making risotto and never get it perfectly right. I have also heard this about eggs. Anyone can make eggs, or risotto for that matter, but it takes a lifetime to perfect it. It is reminiscent of that thing Hunter S. Thompson said about drugs.

“Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.”

I don’t really know why one reminds me of the other, but it does. I guess maybe it is all about obsession. Trying to master something that is in on way so simple and in another way delicately complex. Anyway, the Italians are serious about cooking. So are the French. The two great camps of cuisine. Sure you can be an Asian food expert, but it is like being Switzerland during the Cold War.

Well, enough about food and books. I need to go take a shower. Not much on the agenda for today. Well, so far anyway. More soon. ~SC


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