I rarely use cookbooks for a recipe, I only wish I were that kind of a cook, but they do feed me in a different way. I take note of spices, of combinations, of what ingredients are first toasted, mixed, set aside. I read through lists of ingredients, smelling or imagining the texture of each one. I put an apron in my mind and store the knowledge somewhere between my taste buds and pantry shelves. And then I look at the pictures. It's frivolous but it makes me happy. A Platter of Figs makes me happy.
The photography is delicious. I want to eat the light and the raw beauty of the food primarily unadorned is stunning. The menus are arranged by season which is another of my favorite parts of this book as that's the way we eat. When it's winter, our meals reflect it and I want to cultivate my instinct to make the best of that time. The author, a chef at Chez Panisse six months out of the year, encourages improvising and making the best out of what's available. He knows seasonal cooking.
My last favorite part of the book is that each menu begins with a vignette that provides a back drop to the recipes. The stories make the recipes personal, they prop the kitchen door open and invite the reader in. They're an invitation to notice the stories around the food in our own kitchens, where it came from, how it got there and to think about the people along the way.
And that's a good invitation to accept.
Do you have a favorite cookbook that inspires and makes you happy?