A Food Book: Home Cooking

HomeCookingHOME COOKING: A WRITER IN THE KITCHEN

Laurie Colwin

Perennial/Harper Collins, 1988

My Rating: A+

“One of the delights of life is eating with friends; second to that is TALKING about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating WHILE you are eating with friends. People who like to cook like to talk about food. Plain old cooks (as opposed to the geniuses in fancy restaurants) tend to be friendly. After all, without one cook giving another cook a tip or two, human life might have died out a long time ago.”

Don’t you love the way Laurie Colwin said that? She and I are of the same mind. That quote above came from the first page in this charming book and it goes on from there. It actually gets even better. While reading the book I found myself talking back to her. Here’s an example:

“As everyone knows, there is only one way to fry chicken correctly. Unfortunately, most people think their method is best, but most people are wrong. Mine is the only right way, and on this subject I feel almost evangelical.”

Well, Laurie, you are correct – there is only one right way to fry chicken. Unfortunately, you are wrong about your way of doing it. My method of frying chicken is the one true method. Here’s a hint: use a cast iron skillet and really fresh chicken.

When it comes to making potato salad I will admit (modestly) that mine is superior to her’s. But on this subject Laurie and I agree: a good potato salad allows for lots of experimentation and we agree it’s good to make it all year round.

“When I was young, potato salad was considered summer food. My mother made her mother’s version, which included chopped celery and catsup in the dressing. It was known as pink potato salad and was served at picnics and barbeques as an accompaniment to fried or grilled chicken.”

The book is organized into thirty-three “chats” about a variety of food subjects. In addition to frying chicken and potato salad, she tackles these subjects (this is a sample):

  • Bread Baking Without Agony
  • How to Disguise Vegetables
  • Feeding the Multitudes
  • Kitchen Horrors
  • How to Give a Party

This is not a cookbook with traditional recipes. Laurie tells you how to make a dish and gives examples of things she has done. The most hilarious are the things she’s done wrong. Her tone is strictly conversational – just as if you are sitting in her kitchen talking about food.

I’d like to thank Belle (Ms. Bookish) for recommending this book to me. It completes my Spice of Life Challenge. As you can tell from my rating above, I really liked this book. I borrowed a copy from the library but I plan to buy a copy for my own food book collection. I liked it that much. Laurie Colwin also wrote More Home Cooking and numerous novels, short stories and featured articles in major magazines before her untimely death. I’ve challenged myself to read more of her works in 2010.

WeekendCookingThis food-related post is a part of Beth Fish Read’ Weekend Cooking.

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16 Responses to A Food Book: Home Cooking

  1. Staci says:

    I believe she is laughing in heaven right now. I love your thoughts on your way to fry chicken!! These are books that I need to buy from ABE pretty quick!! I like her homey way of writing…feels like a friend is showing you how to cook!

  2. Beth F says:

    I love Laurie Colwin. So sad that she died young. But isn’t it great that her style and friendliness are timeless. The book doesn’t feel dated at all.

  3. Wow, I’ve never heard of a potato salad recipe with ketchup – sounds interesting!

  4. JoAnn says:

    I really must read Laurie Colwin! And I’ve never heard of a potato salad recipe with ketchup in it, either.

  5. Kathy says:

    This book sounds great to a “plain old cook” like me.

  6. jill says:

    I had heard of this…but I’m definitely picking it up now…sounds great!!

  7. Tami says:

    This book sounds great, I’ll definitely be looking for it. Thanks for the review.

  8. caite says:

    wait…I thought I was the one that made fried chicken the only correct way. and yes, it does involve a cast iron pan…of course.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    This was the first “food memoir” I’d ever read, and it made me fall in love with the genre. I’ve tried out a couple of the recipes, and they are very good – I plan to read more by her!

  10. Stacy says:

    This sounds fun and I don’t say that about many cooking/food books. I think I’d really enjoy this.

  11. Wendy says:

    Laurie Colwin is one of my favorite food writers…and I love this little book (she also wrote a second book similar to this one called More Home Cooking…which is equally delightful). Thanks for reviewing this one…I think every woman should own this book 🙂

  12. I hadn’t ever heard of this writer and I’m adding her to my look-up list while we’re here and have a library card. How many cookbooks do you carry in your RV? I used to have a 4-foot shelf of them in our house before we sold it — and most of them I couldn’t bear to sell, so they’re being stored in our daughter’s attic.

  13. Selena Days says:

    Hi there, I just stumbled upon your blog whilst I’m hunting around Google as I’m looking for some information on wall ovens!. I think it’s an interesting blog so I’ve bookmarked you and I intend to revisit soon to allow more time for a more detailed browse when I can give it more time.

  14. Belle says:

    I’m so glad you liked Home Cooking, Margot! It’s a book I love rereading – it’s just so charming and homey.

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