Cookbook Reviews

6/21/00 - "The Armchair James Beard," edited by John Ferrone, foreword by Barbara Kafka, from The Lyons Press, New York, copyright 1999, hardcover of 346 pages, at $24.95. Not exactly a cookbook, more like insight into food.

James Beard (1903-1985) has been described as the expert on American food, and he knows foreign food also. Ferrone assembles 65 articles written by Beard between about 1964 and 1985 of which all but three have been previously printed in various publications. This is the third collection of Beard's articles, but unlike the other collections this draws from many sources. The others are "Beard on Food" (reviewed on this site, see Tips) and "James Beard's Simple Food" (haven't seen yet). Some articles are "Tools of My Trade," "Whatever Happened to Breakfast?," "Garlic," "Chinese Cuisine," and "Indian Cooking." Other topics include Swiss, French, English, American, and hospital food and much more - all over the culinary place. The articles average about five pages, and you can skip around to suit your taste. Most articles indicate the original publication date at their end. There are also 130 recipes, and only the recipes get an index.

Ferrone worked with Beard on over 100 books/articles, and Kafka does good cookbooks. Jacques Pépin, Alice Waters, Marion Cunningham, and Charlie Trotter all wrote favorable comments. Old info but still good stuff.