Friday, November 21, 2008

Tales from the kitchen

"No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize
Julia Child, in Fitch, Appetite for Life, p. 142

With Thanksgiving upon us, some people are happily planning menus and reviving their specialty recipes to share -
while others are cringing in memory of disastrous episodes such as exploding potatoes or turkeys cooked with the additional "parts package" still inside (or worse.)

Nevertheless, tales of kitchen triumphs and culinary catastrophes continue to amuse and amaze, or console and comfort, while public cooking nightmares are even more enthralling.

Here are some tales from chefs, restaurant reviewers, and other witnesses, with a few recipes thrown in along the way:

Don't try this at home : culinary catastrophes from the world's greatest chefs edited by Kimberly Witherspoon and Andrew Friedman
Forty of the world's greatest chefs relate outrageous true tales from their kitchens. From hiring a blind line cook to flooding the room with meringue to being terrorized by a French owl, these behind-the-scenes accounts are as entertaining as they are revealing. A reminder that even the chefs we most admire aren't always perfect.

The tenth muse : my life in food by Judith Jones
A cookbook editor and culinary authority discusses her lifelong love affair with food, her publication of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," and the influence of James Beard, Madhur Jaffrey, and other great cooks on American cuisine.

Tender at the bone : growing up at the table by Ruth Reichl
First of her three (so far) memoirs about how she grew up to become a New York Times Food Critic. Beginning with Reichl's mother, the notorious food-poisoner known as the Queen of Mold, Reichl introduces us to the fascinating characters who shaped her world and her tastes.
Followed by
Comfort me with apples: more adventures at the table which describes her odyssey from chef to food writer, traces her journey through restaurants from Bangkok to Paris to Los Angeles, and offers colorful anecdotes about her life and encounters with great food, and Garlic and Sapphires:the secret life of a critic in disguise Gone on to become the editor-in-chief of "Gourmet", Reichl recounts her visits to some of the world's most acclaimed restaurants, both as herself and as an anonymous diner in disguise, to offer insight into the differences in her dining experiences.

Kitchen Confidential: adventures in the culinary underbelly by bad boy Anthony Bourdain gave away secrets of the New York restaurants trade in his wickedly funny, inspiring memoir expose and went on to become an international celebrity and food writer. This was followed up by A cook's tour : in search of a perfect meal to Japan where he eats traditional fugu, a poisonous blowfish that can only be prepared by specially licensed chefs, to a delectable snack in the Mecong Delta, follows the author as he embarks on a quest around the world to find the ultimate meal, to his latest, No reservations : around the world on an empty stomach wherein he provides a behind-the-scenes account of his global culinary adventures, from New Jersey to New Zealand, offering commentary on food in every corner of the globe.

All the presidents' pastries : twenty-five years in the White House : a memoir by Roland Mesnier with Christian Malard
Combining intimate details about life behind the scenes at the White House and the members of the First Families, the White House pastry chef describes his personal journey from rural France to the power heights of Washington, D.C., and includes detailed recipes for the favorite desserts of presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

Heat an amateur's adventures as kitchen slave, line cook, pasta-maker, and apprentice to a Dante-quoting butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford
The author offers an account of his entry into the world of a professional cook-in-training, documenting his experiences in the kitchen of Mario Batali's restaurant Babbo and his apprenticeships in Italy with Batali's former teachers.
The Apprentice:my life in the kitchen byJacques Pepin
The Emmy Award-winning television cooking show host traces his rise from an intimidated thirteen-year-old apprentice to a famous chef, recounting such events as his work under prestigious teachers, his journey to America, and his experiences with contemporaries.

Julie and Julia : 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen by Julie Powell
What began as a blog, keeping record of her efforts to cook every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in her tiny Queens apartment in the span one year, which became a smash book as her bleaders (blog readers)vicariously followed her demented efforts.

To find more blogs about cooking, check out this blog directory, which even categorizes the food blogs:
Cooking Blog Directory