A Dash of Elegance

Charles Reavis, Author, Tony Cenicola, Photographer
Charles Reavis, Author, Tony Cenicola, Photographer MacMillan Publishing Company $22 (146p) ISBN 978-0-02-601210-2
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While it may be difficult to imagine oil and vinegar as anything other than poor substitutes for butter and salt, Reavis (Home Sausage Making) dazzles the reader with an array of what he calls ``magical elixirs.'' The author devotes the first half of the book to a careful explanation of these liquid delights, beginning with the gentle hint that ``oil, like wine, is a living thing and the less done to it the better.'' Dozens of sherries, oils and vinegars are explained simply, and it is impossible to resist the allure of such treats as clove oil, blackberry vinegar, and the lovely rose petal and lime sherry. The bulk of the book offers recipes for these flavorings, and while the liquids may be healthful, the recipes tend toward heavy meals like Mongolian beef barbecue. Yet, lighter fare is presented, and Reavis often writes with charming turns of phrase. When describing a squid salad, he comments that, though expensive, ``eviscerated bodies can't be beat.'' The recipes roam all over the earth, from a chicken recipe calling for 40 cloves of garlic to Szechwan-style roast beef. This cookbook is likely to please anyone with a love of spicy foods and meats, and the vinegars and oils themselves would make attractive gifts. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
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