Is There a Nutmeg in the House?Posted: 2007/02/12
David, Elizabeth. Is There a Nutmeg in the House; Essays on Practical Cooking with More Than 150 Recipes. New York: Viking, 2001.
Elizabeth David writes with humor. She also writes about cooking. My kind of book. Sorta. In the rules of the Book Lust Challenge, I said that I wouldn’t read cookbooks from start to finish. I would read the intros and “skip” the recipes. I didn’t want to try every recipe; didn’t want to be David’s version of a Julia Child fanatic. Here’s the issue I have with Nutmeg. Essays run seamlessly into recipes and commentaries. I end up reading about how to make mayonnaise (my archenemy) step by step.
Nevertheless, I have learned interesting things such as:
*the potato is an aphrodisiac, capable of advancing a man’s “withered state” (p. 73). I kid you not.
*Nutmeg is underrated and people should carry graters with them to utilize this spice more often (p. 93).
*David hates garlic presses as much as I do (p.51).
Probably one of the best things I’ve learned from reading David’s Nutmeg isn’t really a lesson. It’s more of an affirmation – to “not to despair over rice” (p.139). While I don’t despair over any kind of rice per se thanks to Alton Brown and a whole episode dedicated to the grain, David’s words ring true with me on a deeper level, “Every amateur cook, however gifted and diligent, has some weak spot, some gap in her knowledge or experience which to anyone critical of her own achievements can be annoying and humiliating.” This statement even knocks the great ones down a notch. Ever seen Bobby lose a throw down? You get what I’m talking about.
BookLust Twist: Nancy Pearl adds this to her “Food for Thought” chapter in Book Lust (p.91) and goes on to say, “…Elizabeth David not only shares her love of food and cooking but writes so evocatively that you can smell and taste the ingredients and dishes as she describes them.”