October 29, 2010

How I Learned to Cook

   Growing up on the West Coast in the 1960s, I depended on Craig Claiborne and Julia Child to guide my culinary adventures. Between their books and her television show, I learned how to cook.
   The Original New York Times Cookbook has been in my collection since before 1970; it is stained, dog-eared, and the covers are held on by rubber bands. I wouldn’t replace it for any amount of money. Why? Because the recipes are so thoroughly tested and so clearly spelled out that even the most intimidating recipe somehow became possible.
   I first knew the book was genius because as a college student, I made my first cheese souffle slavishly following the instructions — no innovation on my part. I had never even eaten one before, so I told all my friends to bring enough McDonald's money just in case it was horrible. After a green salad, successful cheese souffle, and chocolate dessert, we combined the money and sent someone out for a couple of bottles of wine to celebrate the evening.
   It became my “go to” wedding gift for over 20 years. If you don’t have a copy, get one. You won’t be sorry.