Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New in Paperback: The Pleasures of Slow Food by Corby Kummer

When The Pleasures of Slow Food (Chronicle Books) was first published back in 2002, elements that now, in 2008, have become a torrent were just a teensy little trickle. That is to say that Atlantic Monthly senior editor Corby Kummer’s celebration of the slow food movement will make more sense to more people now than it ever could have even six years ago.

If you’ve missed the Slow Food movement so far, you won’t for long: it’s coming at us fast and picking up steam, and dovetailing into other somewhat connected changes in the way we, as a culture, think about food.

To get an oversimplified picture of just what Slow Food is about, think about everything you know about the fast food industry… then imagine the opposite. That’s Slow Food. In Kummer’s words, “Slow Food is anything that uses ingredients carefully raised and tended and that tastes of where it’s from. Most important, it bears the stamp of the hands and the kitchen that made it.” In a way, even that is an oversimplification, but Kummer’s book covers it all in detail: the where, the when, the how and why. It’s lucid, well charted and even more than all of that implies.

It would have been enough to tell us about Slow Food: to explain it to us and let us know what’s good about it and why -- and if -- we should incorporate Slow Food into our own lives. But Kummer goes one better, incorporating a really useful and well-rounded recipe section that most serious home chefs will find of interest. In fact, more than half of The Pleasures of Slow Food is devoted to actually cooking. And though, clearly, you don’t need to follow Slow Food directives to make Baked Cheese with Winter Herbs or Soft Shell Crab Bisque or even Risotto Wrapped in Cabbage Leaves, the sprit of Slow Food envelopes all of these recipes and instructs us, in a way, better than even well-crafted words ever could.



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