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Book Review: David Tanis Market Cooking

December 2017/January 2018 Issue
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David Tanis Market Cooking
Recipes and Revelations Ingredient by Ingredient
By David Tanis (Artisan; $40)

Where does delicious begin? The answer, of course, is at the market. Ingredients at their peak dazzle without asking much of the cook, except for restraint. Although proverbial, this truth always merits review. Especially at this celebratory time of year when we often cook to impress, I’m grateful for this book, an inspiring reminder from the beloved chef and author David Tanis that remarkable meals happen almost effortlessly when first we select what’s best at the market and then decide what’s on the menu.

Tanis, who for many years cooked at Chez Panisse, illustrates the brilliance of la cuisine du marché (“cooking from the market”) by taking us on a journey through the market and offering 200 straightforward recipes that help us make the most of what we find there. Organized by ingredient, the chapters flow from humble alliums through a cornucopia of vegetables. Tanis invites us to learn deeply about each ingredient and to discover cooking methods and recipes that showcase what makes them special. Scallions, for example, reveal their luscious pungency and sweetness when simply charred over high heat in a wok or on the grill. Greens robustly delight whether served almost raw, as in the Wilted Kale Salad with Pecorino, or long-cooked Southern style with ham hocks. Even potatoes attain glory, albeit very different versions of it, when baked into a classic gratin, mashed with lots of butter and cream, or simply boiled in water as salty as the sea.

With wisdom and generosity, Tanis eases us in the direction of more intuitive, more spontaneous cooking. The point of it all is this: Delicious needn’t be complicated. And that’s something that every cook—from beginner to pro—can appreciate.

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