Friday, June 8, 2012

What I've Been Reading: Culinary Intelligence


It was a New York Times write up that spurred me to buy a book.  Yes, you read that correctly. I purchased it instead of waiting for a copy through the library.  Having finished my impulse buy I now know I should have waited for the free copy!

Culinary Intelligence: The art of eating healthy (and really well) by Peter Kaminsky sounded promising.  Even the cover looked great -- simple, pure, delightful.  Not so much.  A friend to whom I lent my copy said it best when she said "I'm a third of the way through and haven't learned anything I didn't already know".  That statement is true for me after finishing the book. The author seem to be confused about what he was writing.  Part memoir, part cookbook, part diet manual.  In total, a disappointing read.

Sure, there were some great points buried in it.  The primary one I took was looking into local sources of fish.  Kaminsky hates frozen fish, and he has point.  Combined with over fishing, it makes turning to the great lakes that surround Madison, Wisconsin appealing.  Later this summer we are headed to Bayfield, Wisconsin for some R&R and I hope to pick up some smoked fish that I can bring home with me.

In the end, I'd say read a free copy of the book.  And be prepared to be annoyed if you consider yourself a down-to-earth person.  I've lived on the East Coast and adore it.  Yet I found Kaminsky to be way too out of touch.  Even though he references his wife's family in Rockford, Illinois, I kept thinking "seriously, do you know how most of America lives?" when reading his suggestions.  Such as shopping at 2pm for dinner, going to the bread store, the grocer, the veggie stand, etc.  That sounds lovely, if you're vacationing in France or retired in New York City.  But I live, and work, in Madison and have two little kids who want dinner on the table by 5:30 pm.  Afternoon strolls to the market aren't part of my life.  Nor will they be for a long time.

For now I'll take comfort in my books by Michael Pollan and Mark Bittner.  Both advocate eating foods that are as close to nature as possible.  Nothing too fancy.  Keep it simple.  It's good for you, your wallet, and planet Earth.  All my bookshelf needs is one in this style written by a women with kids....someone who I can relate to a bit more.

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