Do you remember a premier cooking show on the Discovery Channel from over ten years ago that featured great adventures in European regional cooking? This is the book from that show, and it had me at the first page. How can one resist a cookbook with chapters such as, “Out of a Roaring, Screaming French Kitchen, an Irish Chef Comes Full Circle,” or “A Tearful First Day on the Job and a Culinary Spy in the Cellar,” or my favorite, “Sails in the Wind and the Man in the Black Cape.” How could you possibly not read this book?
The show’s quest was aimed to reflect the food and culture of each European country visited. They wanted to focus on the people in quiet towns and famous food cities alike; pick produce with chefs, gather recipes, and even work the stoves. The cameras visited famous food suppliers and dinnerware makers, and learned to make proper tea right near Buckingham Palace. The show wanted to bring European cooking to American home kitchens.
There are endless incredible recipes in this companion book to the television series. The following first few words of the chapter on a Victorian hotel in Ireland, almost had me on a plane to get there by dinner: “On a cool, blustery, and fog-filled day, it is literally a warm welcome one finds upon entering the Park Hotel. A red-hot blaze in a tiny, rumford fireplace fed by wood and local black coal, greets guests. The little fire is always burning as the hotel’s genuine symbol of hospitality.” The book has photos to drool over while you dream about sitting by the tiny rumford fireplace. All this, and we haven’t even touched the recipes yet!
Even though this cooking series was from over ten years ago, the recipes still have the rallying cry of “fresh ingredients,” not so different from what we hear today about going green and local. Fresh is the credo everywhere high-quality cooking is served. The message is that food must be kept simple and healthy, without dwelling on heavy sauces and complicated recipes. There is a hunger for cooking that reminds us of home.
Now I need to go find out just who that man is in the black cape. Then go relax by the fire.
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