Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Man With a Pan

I mentioned earlier this month that my zest for cooking had sort of waned over the summer.  I was still cooking 3-4 nights a week, but it wasn't "challenging" stuff and some nights it was more chore than pleasure. I credit the Saveur magazine dedicated to Mexican cooking as the kindling that got my culinary fire going again, but I've also been reading an interesting book, too.

It's called Man with a Pan by John Donohue.  The book is set up as a series of short essays by guys who do the cooking for their families.  The essayists are both famous/semi-famous folks in the food industry (chefs, food writers, plus Stephen King somewhat randomly) and non-famous everyday guys like firefighters and lawyers.

DB~ has a plethora of positive qualities, but cooking is not one of them.  She can clearly do it, but she dreads the thought of making dinner and loathes going to the grocery store.  Reading this book made me feel that I'm not alone.  There's lots of stories in this book where the wives have no interest in cooking (or were awful at it) and that responsibility has been delegated to the husband.

After the essays (the ones from non-famous people are usually 2-3 pages), the author gives one of their signature go-to recipes and lists a few cookbooks that have been big influences on their life.  I'm only about halfway through the book, but already 3 people have mentioned Marcella Hazen's Essentials of Italian Cooking as a key cookbook.  Prior to reading this book, I had never heard of Hazen or this cookbook, so after a quick Google search I learned that the 83 year old Hazen is still alive.  The cookbook was published in 1992 and was actually a compilation of two earlier books of hers.  Hazen is credited with bringing Old World Italian into 1970's America.

Up until last weekend, no one I talked to had heard of Hazen or this book. But while speaking with one of my cousins about another deceased cousin who was a master home chef, she recognized the cover of the book from seeing it in her aunt's kitchen for many years.

I love to cook because it is a stress relief for me and allows me to be creative.  It also makes me feel useful to DB~, as I am providing (mostly) great tasting meals that are fairly well-balanced in nutrition.  I like to know that she is eating well and that we just don't eat out all the time.

It's good to know that other guys feel the same way.

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