originally a starblvd post by MEF, Jan/21/2004 13:18:04 [-05 EST]
When I first became aware of 'cooking' as something other than just heating up stuff that could be eaten (about '71 with the publication of Vol I of "The Art of French Cooking"), I began to buy various cook books. This was built up to be an interesting collection which was, unfortunately, lost in a messy divorce in '94. Since then, I have tried to re-build the collection, with some success. One of the books that I hunted for and found was the 1961 "The Art of Good Cooking" by Paula Peck. I'm curious if anyone else here has found inspiration in her writings (only 43 years ago!).
I started proper cooking in 1984. My influences haven't been cooking writers but TV cooks in particularly Delia Smith, Keith Floyd, Ken Hom and Madhur Jaffrey. My wife on the other hand has an immense collection of recipe books and will normally find a recipe for just about anything I want to cook. She's always been the biggest influence on what and how I cook.
Ah, well, the JOY is the cornerstone of any North American kitchen - it is simply brilliant at describing how to make anything. I was thinking (in my original post)of the the early writers like Elizabeth David, James Beard, Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Craig Claiborne who pushed North Americans out of complacency in the '60's and '70's and began the push for excellency in cooking.
Yes, Julia Child and Madhur Jaffrey definitely influenced me. But in a way more than Child and Jaffrey, I was swayed into actually trying to make these things by reading "Asia - the Beautiful Cookbook" by Jacki Passmore, "Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen" by Laurie Colwin and the food related articles written for "Atlantic Magazine" by Corby Kummer. These people may not be considered to be exactly ancient but I was influenced by them over 10 years ago which is absolutely paleolithic in computertime.
(I too consult "The Joy of Cooking" for just about everthing.)
More recently, I have been blown away by the writings of MFK Fisher ("Long Ago in France") and Madeleine Kamman ("When French Women Cook"). I tried to read Elizabeth David's books but just can't get into them - writing is too... too... ummm... well, I just didn't like it and couldn't even read and remember enough sentences in a row to see why everyone raves about her.
I love to read cook books, especially when they have coloured pictures, ideally of everything in the book.
But I have been much more influenced by cooking shows on tv. I can't pinpoint any particular show that's been a particular influence. I sometimes get an idea from a tv show and then read books to find out more about that dish or technique.
I have been quite influenced by TV chefs. I remember watching The Galloping Gourmet and other cooking shows in the early 70s. I also remember, when I was making brownies by myself when I was 10 or 11, pretending to have my own cooking show.
The TV chef that influenced me most as an adult was James Barber because he made a complete dinner in less than half an hour. His show was on when I was nursing my baby 9 years ago. He was a very long nurser and I would watch The Urban Peasant while he nursed. Then I'd watch the next cooking show the title of which escapes me. MrBrown really liked it that I was watching cooking shows because the cooking improved immensely. Now I like Rachael Ray (30 Minute Meals) and Sara of Sara's Secrets. Both make quick and easy meals that can be made in less than an hour.