Sunday, November 4, 2007

Buford on Slow Food–before the onslaught

I just finished reading Heat, and it's my favorite among the recent-ish slew of celebrity-chef exposés/restaurant-kitchen memoirs. (For the record, the others I've digested are Michael Ruhlman's The Soul of a Chef, Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, and–arguably in a separate genre–Phoebe Damrosch's Four Star Secrets.)

Anyway, Buford's Batali homage won me over because his view of the craft of cooking–notably, outside of restaurant kitchens–is similar to mine. Having ferried countless plates of food to appreciative, discriminating, and indifferent customers, I highly respect every chef striving for perfection night after night. But that's not the kind of cooking I'm interested in doing.

"For millennia, people have known how to make their food. They have understood animals and what to do with them, have cooked with the seasons and had a farmer's knowldge of the way the planet works. They have preserved traditions of preparing food, handed down through generations, and have come to know them as expressions of their families. People don't have this kind of knowledge today, even though it seems as fundamental as the earth, and, it's true, those who do have it tend to be professionals–like chefs. But I don't want this knowledge in order to be a professional; just to be more human."

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