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worst cookbooks?

Jen_M.'s picture

worst cookbooks? (post #62569)

What was the most disappointing cookbbok you ever bought? Mine was 'Great Good Food' by Julee Rosso-- you could tell which of the Silver Palate team was the real cook, IMHO.

CLS's picture

(post #62569, reply #31 of 41)

Now, see, if I had bought a book with an unknown person's inscription, I would have saved it, because I'm a sentimental idiot whether it's something that's special to or to someone else. Silly, huh?

So, have you kept it and pull it out occasionally to sigh over?

MadMom_'s picture

(post #62569, reply #32 of 41)

i So, have you kept it and pull it out occasionally to sigh over?

Of course! No one can accuse me of not being sentimental. Each time I look at it, I come up with a different story about how it ended up in my hands.

Marie-Louise_'s picture

(post #62569, reply #33 of 41)

I just bought
i The Frugal Gourmet on our Immigrant Ancestors
before I saw this. A few weeks ago I was looking through the 1998-99 archives and there was a discussion of this book (of course, the search engine cannot find it). People seemed to like it, and for whatever it's worth, there are rave reviews for it on I love the subtitile,
i "recipes you should have gotten from your grandmother".
The book seems like a good read, even if you don't cook any of the recipes. For each of the 35 cuisines, he has an introduction of several pages that tell when and why this ethnic group immigrated to America. There is also a nice chapter about what it was like to go through Ellis Island.

And...since his fall from grace, the book was cheap. I think it was about $5.00 at Jessica's Biscuit. Some of his other ones are free selections.

Chiffonade_'s picture

(post #62569, reply #34 of 41)

i ...The book seems like a good read, even if you don't cook any of the recipes.

All of his books are like that because food and cooking are very personal to him. He affixes a great deal of religious significance to cooking and the act of sharing food with others. I don't have a
i Frugal Gourmet
book I don't like. I do admit that some are a bit out there, but they are fun reads.

aussiechef's picture

(post #62569, reply #35 of 41)

Believe it or not, my least used cookbook is by Madeleine Kamman. Savoie. Had no idea that there is a whole area in Europe (Savoie is in the French Alps) which cooks food I can't stand. Cabbage, tripe, polenta, pike, turnips... Out of curiosity I made something called Farcement du Faucigny, a concoction of bacon, potatoes and odd things which steams for 7 hours in a mold. Oh, god. If we want to make a friend laugh so much we have to scrape him up from the floor, we yell "FARCEMENT!!".

Amy_W.'s picture

(post #62569, reply #36 of 41)

I agree..

I like this cookbook, it's about food history, customs, traditions, the struggles/hardships of our ancestors -- for which I have great respect, very humbling to me. Old World cookery for the most part, tends to be on the heavy side -- cos that's what sustained them, but not meant for our everyday eating. Most recipes are simple and basic, this is not fancy cooking. Ethnic cooking is a good way of learning and understanding some of the different cultures.

How fortunate we are now to have so many foods available to us year-round, not just what can be found locally.

Which reminds me of this story from an Icelandic woman, Nanna.

"Some of you said you had enjoyed my descriptions of the food of Icelanders so I thought I would treat you to a section from the childhood memoirs of an old Icelander. This is about 1880 and he is an orphan growing up at Látrar, a remote farm on the north coast of Iceland. The farmer is one of the better off farmers in a desperately poor region on the very edge of the habitable world (this region has now been uninhabited for 50 years), and this was actually better food than what people at most other farms in the region were getting. As it happens, the farmer was my great-great-great-grandfather´s brother.

The people at Látrar were generally considered well fed, and food never ran out on the farm, as would happen on many other farms. But many modern people would not consider the food to have been either varied or tempting.

They usually dressed around six o´clock in the morning and then they had black coffee with a red rock sugar lump. This was all that the fishermen got before they went out in their boats and they took no provisions with them. … Breakfast was at nine. Occasionally dried fish was served, but usually they got boiled, fermented fish, as most of the dried fish was sold. In addition to this, each person got half a flatbread, spread with a mixture of tallow and fish oil, usually cod liver oil. They hardly ever got any butter. That was reserved for visitors and for Tryggvi, who took with him provisions from home on his shark-fishing trips, as others did also. When people had finished their fish and flatbread, they got rye porridge with a little milk, but most of the milk was reserved for visitors, or for making butter and skyr (curds). The porridge was served in earthenware bowls but metal spoons were not used, the spoons were made of horn. Table knives and forks were reserved for visitors. The farm people would sit on their beds, with the plates in their laps, and eat with a small pocket knife.

After breakfast was finished, no one got anything to eat or drink until 3 o´clock, when the midday meal was served. That would sometimes be the same food as at breakfast, with the exception that if fresh fish was available, it would replace the fermented fish. And pea soup was sometimes served, occasionally with meat, but that was rare. Meat soup with barley or oats was a rare midday treat.

The evening meal was eaten at 8 o´clock. That was usually hræringur, a mixture of skyr (curds) and a porridge. This was not always very appetizing in winter, when the skyr was sometimes frozen solid and had to be chopped up with an ax – and the porridge bowls contained as much ice as skyr. And the room where the people ate their meals was usually icy cold as well. Another thing was that sometimes mold would grow on the sides of the skyr barrels, when they were being emptied. If something was still left in the barrels in early summer, no one bothered to clean them out before new batches of skyr were added. Sæmundur (the writer) found the lumps of mold rather bitter and sometimes he gagged on them. …

When sheep were slaughtered, the breasts and sides were smoked but the rest was salted. The farm people usually only got smoked meat at major holidays; most of it was served to visitors and the shark fishers. The salt used for the salted meat was never enough to prevent some rot in it; it wasn't thought to taste right otherwise. This meat was also mostly used for visitors but some of it was served to the farm people, usually in a soup or pea porridge. In the autumn, fresh meat was occasionally boiled and served, but meat was never fried or roasted at Látrar. Meat was not preserved in whey but lamb´s heads were stored in skyr. That was food for visitors.

Offal was considered a delicacy but the cooking of it was rather haphazard. For blood sausage, the blood was not diluted with water, and very little flour was used. The colon was used for lundabaggar, which were preserved in whey. All lungs were boiled and put into whey. Brains were boiled and mashed. Small intestines from mutton were eaten. They were cleaned and washed, braided and boiled, and either eaten fresh or preserved in whey. The large intestines were stuffed with meat and mutton fat and the sausages were smoked. That was food for feasts and for visitors.

In the spring, lumpfish was very common food, as was halibut in summer. Fish was never fried and no spices were ever used. Shark tails were split and dried; when they were fully dry, they were boiled and then preserved in whey. They were considered a real delicacy.

There was no vegetable garden at Látrar, and turnips or rutabagas were never bought. Potatoes were occasionally bought and only served with fish. The only grains that were used, except at holidays, were oats, barley or rye for porridge, and rye flour for flatbread. The bread was baked on a large, flat stone, eight at a time. Sometimes they were partly raw inside and the fishermen sometimes said, when at sea, that it was a pity they could not use all the wind for the sails. Sweet cakes or cookies were only eaten at major holidays. It might be added that the Sunday menu was no different from any other day, with the exception that if there was enough milk, a thin milky rice soup was served.

You may think it curious how often it is mentioned that the best food was saved for visitors. Icelanders were well known for their hospitality and most people wanted to be able to serve visitors their very best food -- maybe to show off, but in many cases genuinely to please.

I remember my father telling me that when he was 17, he was sent on an errand to the next farm a few days after Christmas. The farmer´s wife served him coffee and cakes -- he counted 23 different types of cakes and cookies on the table. And he was the only guest."

Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir, author of
i Matarást
(Love of Food), Icelandic food and cooking encyclopedia.

Marie-Louise_'s picture

(post #62569, reply #37 of 41)

Are there stories about the different regions of America in this cookbook?

Wolverine's picture

(post #62569, reply #38 of 41)

Sort of. Mostly it is regional recipes using "strictly American" ingredients.

Wolverine's picture

(post #62569, reply #39 of 41)

LOL - you made this friend laugh from a very long distance! ;-)

Big_Daddy's picture

(post #62569, reply #40 of 41)

I agree with everything you all say.

i Great Read.
i Tradition.
i Cheap.

I just didn't find his recipes to be very good.


Cissy_'s picture

(post #62569, reply #41 of 41)