cover image Simple Cooking

Simple Cooking

John Thorne. Viking Books, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-670-81212-7

Similarities between the versatile zucchini and the blandly grating familiarity ""Have a nice day'' could easily escape the average cook, but Thorne, the editor of the Simple Cooking newsletter, thinks about such things. He also ponders Alice B. Toklas and the differences between fat and thin chefs. This multifarious collection of recipe-laced pieces gathers topics as diverse as stuffed grape leaves, picnics and the culinary subculture of ``truly awful recipes.'' The substance of Thorne's work is not the exotic, but the everyday. For example, a department store's food processor demonstration leads him to contemplate picture-perfect ingredients (and the cooks who demand them), turning the event into a thought-provoking essay. Recipes are likewise basic. Cocoa, macaroni and cheese, French toast and cheesecake are lovingly and thoroughly explored. Also offered are more adventurous but equally easy dishes: pears and toasted hazelnuts in whipped cream with Armagnac, strawberries with lemon and black pepper, and pork-and-apple pie. Incisive, hilarious and occasionally nostalgic, this volume will delight many readers, reminding them why they enjoy the pleasures of food and cooking. (October 21)