October 14, 2012


I love to cook and my favorite food magazine is Cooks Illustrated. The New York Times did a really nice profile of its Publisher -- Christopher Kimball:
Cooking Isn�t Creative, and It Isn�t Easy
Inside the renovated Le Bernardin in Midtown Manhattan, the pink flowers are as tall as dogwoods and the latticework walls give off a coppery, sci-fi sheen, and Christopher Kimball, the most influential home cook in America, prods a fork into an appetizer of Wagyu beef, langoustine and osetra caviar from China. He pulls apart the cylinder and glances skeptically inside. �I�m happier eating at Di Fara,� he claims, meaning the slice parlor in an Orthodox Jewish section of Midwood, Brooklyn, that has been occasionally hounded by the city�s Health Department. �Just real pizza,� Kimball enthuses. �No duck sausage and crap.� It�s true that he appears out of place amid the restaurant�s boardroom-in-space d�cor; with his bow tie, suspenders and severely parted hair, Kimball looks like someone who might�ve sold homeowners� insurance to Calvin Coolidge.
A bit more:
At the core of C.I.�s M.O. are two intrepid observations Kimball has made about the innermost psychology of home cooks. Namely that they 1) are haunted by a fear of humiliation, and 2) will not follow a recipe to the letter, believing that slavishly following directions is an implicit admission that you cannot cook. (When Kimball laid this out for me, I shuddered with recognition.) What the magazine essentially offers its readers is a bargain: if they agree to follow the recipes as written, their cooking will succeed and they will be recognized by family and friends as competent or even expert in the kitchen. To this end, every 32-page issue of the magazine presents a handful of recipes that have been made �bulletproof,� to use a Kimballism, i.e., worried into technical infallibility after weeks of testing so exacting as to bring an average home cook to the brink of neurasthenia. The bargain further holds that the peppercorn-crusted filet of beef or butterscotch-cream pie will turn out not only in C.I.�s professional kitchen, with its All-Clad pans and DCS ranges, but also on a lowly electric four-top, using a dull knife and a $20 nonstick skillet.
What I like is that the explain why they use a certain methodology and I can adapt that while changing the recipe to my tastes. Good stuff! Posted by DaveH at October 14, 2012 11:17 AM