By Tamar Adler
Scribner, 2011. 250 pgs. Nonfiction
Part cookbook, part philosophy, part poetry, this slim volume will have each reader re-imagining how to cook at home. Tamar Adler is a woman of strong opinions, among them the belief that aged food is better than fresh food, that we always under cook our vegetables, and that nothing should be thrown away. Through a series of innovative chapter titles, such as ‘how to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat’, Tamar outlines a plan for how to shop, cook, eat, and live well. This cookbook does what no other recipe-laden one can: it shows what to do with the left overs – the ingredients, cooking liquids, and partial meals that are so often discarded. Her philosophy allows each meal to roll into the next one, so the ubiquitous question ‘what’s for dinner?’ becomes obsolete and is instead replaced by the continuous action of cooking.
I am not exaggerating when I say: this book changed my life. I have loved cooking and recipe books for ages, but even with dozens of cookbooks at my disposal, I never knew what to make for dinner. Furthermore, I always felt guilty about not eating left-overs, or not knowing what to do with the rest of a bunch of radishes – cleaning out my refrigerator at the end of the week was my most dreaded chore. After having read An Everlasting Meal twice, I implemented Tamar’s well laid-out plan this week and I have been eating some of the most wonderful food I’ve ever had. Not only does her philosophy translate to everyday life, but her narrative voice is gorgeous in a way that I can only compare to poetry. This is a book for anyone at all concerned with food: those who like to cook it, think about it, read about it, and, most importantly, eat it.