NOTHING FANCY: Recipes and Recollections of Soul-Satisfying Food by Diana Kennedy
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NOTHING FANCY: Recipes and Recollections of Soul-Satisfying Food

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Kennedy, the author of several pioneering and well-received works on Mexican cookery, has produced a sort of culinary scrapbook, an album of ""recipes that are, or have been at one time or another, part of my culinary life."" An odd experiment, with some unexpected components--notably the glorious British stodge of Kennedy's youth, as represented by such deeply satisfying fare as bread sauce, cold pork pie, potato scones, and Scotch eggs. Mexican food both traditional and unorthodox also figures from time to time (stewed pig's feet, beef salpicán, guava paste), but most of the recipes were gathered from a wildly cosmopolitan circle of friends--Yugoslav, Romanian, Swedish, Syrian. Other dishes started life as restaurant specialties or favorites from other cookbooks. As a result, ProvenÇal tian with Mexican herbs, ""taramasalata English style,"" Philadelphia snapper soup from a Sheila Hibben cookbook, and Vietnamese baked pork with a lime-orange sauce rub elbows with Portuguese fish stew, Ardennes-style fried potatoes with juniper (followed by an improvised variant with Mexican ingredients), and fish with tahini, pecans, and lime juice. There is a lavish selection of herbal remedies and other homemade drinks. All this fare is liberally interspersed with reminiscences of travels and childhood meals and--more particularly--descriptions of Kennedy's present life at the ""ecological house"" she built in Mexico in 1980. Pungent opinions and sensible advice abound--excoriations of no-good food like the Southern California strawberries ""which always remind me of W. C. Field's nose,"" tips on things like boiling potatoes for salad without getting them ""unappetizingly ragged around the edges."" It's hard to think of many other food writers who could carry off a convincing memoir-by-recipe, but Kennedy has always been a thinker among drones. Generous-spirited, lively-minded, and altogether irresistible.

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 1984
Publisher: Dial