September 28, 2012

An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler

We had another great lunch & learn event today at work.  Tamar Adler, author of An Everlasting Meal, spoke about resourceful cooking and also cooked for us.  It was a fantastic way to spend an hour, and I'm glad she made the trip from Brooklyn!

When I read the description for today's event, I have to admit that I had not heard of Tamar Adler nor her book, however when I saw in her bio that she she worked at Chez Panisse, I immediately wanted to hear her speak.  I'm in awe of anyone whom Alice Waters chooses to work with.

Someone in the crowd asked "how did you become so resourceful?"  Tamar spoke about how her mom worked 1 1/2 jobs, yet made lunch and dinner everyday.  Going on to say that her mom was incredibly resourceful with both ingredients and time.

Her time at Chez Panisse was also an influence because everything gets used there.  The lunch menu is determined from what's leftover from dinner the night before.  I've heard amazing things about Chez Panisse and I hope to dine there someday.

Today's presentation started with everyone tasting hot water.  Sounds weird, right?  We tried three types - plain water, salted water and water with both salt and herbs.  Tamar said the first salted one should taste like pleasant seawater and the second should taste "full on oceanic," like a big gulp of ocean water.

The setup today was great because a camera guy did overhead shots, so we could see inside the pots as Tamar was cooking.  Below is a photo I took from the screen where it was being projected, and it shows people sampling the different types of water.  

Who would have thought boiled potatoes and broccoli could taste so good?  Tamar Adler definitely knows what she's talking about when she states the importance of seasoning the water.  Although my favorite item was the crostini topped with a broccoli stem pesto.

The pesto contained broccoli stems (you could use a cabbage or cauliflower core too), garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt and a few chili flakes.  It would have tasted even better if my tongue hadn't been burned from sampling hot water :)

There were comments in the crowd regarding the large quantity of salt and olive oil used.  As Tamar explained, "food shouldn't taste like a punishment for getting hungry."  Use good olive oil and Parmesan cheese because if your vegetables taste amazing, you'll be less likely to eat food that's not as good for you.

We were given a copy of An Everlasting Meal at the event today, and I can't wait to start reading it.  So far, I've only read the Foreword, which was written by Alice Waters.  She says "The book is beautifully intimate, approaching cooking as a narrative that beings not with a list of ingredients or a tutorial on cutting an onion but with a way of thinking."

I have benefited greatly from methodical cookbooks like Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, but am looking forward to reading about a different approach to cooking and one that might be easier for me now that I've mastered the basics.

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