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Book Review: An Everlasting Meal By Tamar Adler

This is unquestionably the era of the foodie. Surrounded by talk of “cronuts” or molecular gastronomy, it’s easy to get swept away and spend your entire budget on truffle butter and grass-fed rib eyes. But Tamar Adler tells us that we can eat like kings without spending a fortune.

As a young editor at Harper’s, Adler drifted into the kitchen at New York’s Prune, where she studied under chef Gabrielle Hamilton. She cooked at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, and [worked] for Waters’ Edible Schoolyards. Despite her formidable experience, An Everlasting Meal champions cooking at home. Adler clearly prefers simple, humble meals made with inexpensive local ingredients—scraps and all.

Not a cookbook per se, An Everlasting Meal is divided into sections on subjects such as “How to Find a Fortune,” where Adler instructs on how to turn homely onions into “golden jam,” and how to use an inexpensive bunch of celery to make rich stock, piquant salsa verde, and sumptuous pasta frittata. Aside from her “tip-to-tail” approach to vegetables and meats alike, Adler lives and dies by farm
fresh eggs, olive oil, and “day-old” bread.

Her chapter on beans is especially lovely. A description of when a bean is done—”the mere flutter of your breath should disturb its skin right off”— reveals both how seriously Adler feels about beans and how she can seriously write. Adler encourages thoughtfully composing meals without any hurry, taking time to taste and season and utilize the senses. Her method is the antithesis of “30 Minute Meals,” and you’ll want to relish the book to pick up each flavorful crumb. Like Adler’s modest, unpolished meals themselves, this book is destined to be dog-eared, worn, and well-loved.

Editor’s note: You can borrow An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace and many other wonderful books from Tucson CSA’s Food Literature Lending Library. To set up your free library account, send us an email at