Despite having a page on my blog for books I’ve read and a side bar for titles, I’ve not been great at actually reviewing any of the mountain of cook books, memoirs or novels I get through every month. I read so much, I’m often in danger of forgetting the book the instant I’ve put it down. Resorting to asking Mr Glam if he’s seen, ‘that blue book, the one with the fat spine and gold, red, silver or whatever writing on it.’ No recollection of name, author or cover. This cannot be said for the latest book by Kathleen Flinn, The Kitchen Counter Cookery School.
I read with a grisly fascination about the contents of some of the American kitchens she visited, with a plethora of instant food akin to the contents of an Apollo Mission menu. Boxes of Mac and Cheese, curry from a cube and cans of turkey chilli poured over nachos. The women’s ennui had been inherited from their mothers, or they’d simply given up when faced with mountains of food bought at wharehouse supermarkets, because it was cheap, but about 9 portions too much for the family they were feeding or the kitchen they owned.
I’m not being smug – I’m as guilty as the next person of splurging at Costco and being unable to use all that I’ve bought. It’s the reason I have a freezer full of apple sauce and no dinner to take it to. It was energising to read how she approached these underdeveloped cooks, giving them tastings of olive oils, parmesans, stock and salt. All learning along the way to, taste, taste, taste.
Each chapter of the journey is broken by recipes for the lesson of the day. How to turn your chicken into Thai, Mexican, Italian. Or making simple bread and pasta with fresh Alfredo sauce. I’d never heard of Alfredo sauce before but, aparantly, it’s another ‘Box’ instant food staple.
I enjoyed the approach to learning to cook so much I’ve used it to help the New Londoner learn a few more cooking techniques. And the only thing I’m buying from Costco at the moment is foil, serviettes and cling film.
I loved the sense of liberation this book revealed for these women and the feeling, even for someone who cooks regularly, that everything is possible.