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Cookbook takes culinary history for a stirring ride
'Eat Feed Autumn Winter'
By Anne Bramley (Stewart Tabori & Chang, $35)
What it is: Anne Bramley -- a native Midwesterner, University of Chicago grad, host of the popular food-culture podcast Eat Feed (eatfeed.com), and an English lit professor with a specialty in food culture -- now offers "Eat Feed Autumn Winter," a handsome cookbook with 30 menus crafted toward entertaining during the winter months. It includes advice on stocking your larder and eating seasonally at a time when fresh food is not so readily available.
Praise (and quibbles): Bramley now lives in Boston, but her cookbook reflects different times and cultures altogether. Which is understandable given her early Renaissance scholarship, and interests in British and Scottish traditions, 21st Century Scandinavian flavors, culinary migrations (Mexican food in Chicago, for instance), and European and American food history in general.
So, along with s'mores, fondue and pizza, you'll find recipes for "a jolly great joint of beef," chili-lime shrimp and coconut black beans, President Washington's favorite corn cakes, Mississippi mud parfaits, Renaissance winter-greens tart, smoked fish cakes with spicy Hmong stew, along with Ambrose Bierce's quips about Welsh rabbit, a Christmas Carol about wassailing, and quotations from Henry Fielding's "The Grub Street Opera."
Which is really only a complaint if you have no interest in tidbits of food and cultural history to go with your recipes. In which case, why pick up anything other than "Joy of Cooking" at all?
Why we think you'll like it: We of course love it, and plan to select one of Bramley's menus -- maybe the one for Twelfth Night or for Highlands Hogmanay (Scottish New Year) -- to make the holiday meals a lot more interesting this year. We've already tried her duck with grape sauce on Indian spiced cauliflower, and liked it so much that we would eat it any time of the year: It was cozy, rich and refreshing all at once, just like Bramley's book.
Keywords: FOOD; BOOK; REVIEW