From the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author James Salter and his wife, Kay-amateur chefs and perfect hosts-here is a charming, beautifully illustrated tour de table: a food lover's companion that, with an entry for each day of the year, takes us from a Twelfth Night cake in January to a champagne dinner on New Year's Eve. Life Is Meals is rich with culinary wisdom, history, recipes, literary pleasures, and the authors' own memories of successes and catastrophes.For instance: • The menu on the Titanic on the fatal night• Reflections on dining from Queen Victoria, JFK, Winnie-the-Pooh, Garrison Keillor, and many others• The seductiveness of a velvety Brie or the perfect martini• How to decide whom to invite to a dinner party-and whom not to• John Irving's family recipe for meatballs; Balzac's love of coffee• The greatest dinner ever given at the White House• Where in Paris Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter had French onion soup at 4:00 a.m.• How to cope with acts of God and man-made disasters in the kitchenSophisticated as well as practical, opinionated, and indispensable, Life Is Meals is a tribute to the glory of food and drink, and the joy of sharing them with others. "The meal is the emblem of civilization," the Salters observe. "What would one know of life as it should be lived, or nights as they should be spent, apart from meals?" From the Hardcover edition.
The author of A Sport and a Pastime teams with his wife, his 30-year cooking companion, to produce a "dinner book," a quirky cornucopia of recipes, historical notes, household hints, brief surveys of foodstuffs (eggs, salt, avocados, doughnuts, cheeses, olives, martinis, etc.) and utensils (forks, knives or toothpicks, say), appreciation of friends met both in life (including Alice Waters and Julia Child) and through books (Lord Byron, Anna Karenina) and random observations (what makes a good waiter) and advice of all kinds. For example, six "days" in January are dedicated to the useful art of giving a dinner party, but in fact, tips on, or accounts of picnics and parties (clearly a delight for both Salters), are everywhere. Their recipes are simple and good (Polpettone alla Toscana; Chicken Marengo; Fraises � la Cussy; Gazpacho) and can usually be made in advance, leaving the cooks free to socialize. But this volume is not chiefly one of recipes or hints (though both may prove practical). The Salters call it a "bedside book" and, with its attractive packaging and charming illustrations by Fabrice Moireau, it should make the perfect hostess gift, not always an easy thing to choose, say the authors. (Oct. 20)
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October 15, 2006
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