I was excited to receive a copy of Molly O'Neill's new book One Big Table: A Portrait of American Cooking in the mail this week. The nicely designed, picture-laden book includes 800-plus pages of great recipes and offers an encyclopedic look at cooking in America. To write it, O'Neill, an award-winning cookbook author and former food columnist for The New York Times and host of the PBS series Great Food, spent 10 years traveling the country and collecting recipes from home cooks, farmers, chefs and fishermen.
By hosting potlucks across the country and with the help of friends and friends of friends, she collected more than 10,000 recipes that she narrowed down to the 600 that appear in
the book. They range from a Columbus, Ohio resident's pho to a
Pennsylvania man's dried corn chowder.
In the book's introduction, O'Neill writes:
"The more miles I logged, the clearer it became that
'Americans don't cook' is an updated version of an old slur. From the
birth of the nation until quite recently, Europeans and those Americans
who measure culture in relationship to European society claimed that
Americans can't cook. The assertion may have been reality-based in the
nation's early days - rare is the culture that mints a refined cuisine
before it clears the wilderness and establishes communities - but in
more than 300,000 miles, I found that my fellow citizens can and do
cook. Some cook badly, some cook well, all cook to say who they are and
where they come from."
The book would make a great Christmas gift. Florida is well
represented with about 15 recipes that hale from Tallahassee to Coral Gables. There are, for instance, recipes by Marcel Escoffier and baseball legend Ted Williams, who lived in Hernando, Florida in his later years.
Check back tomorrow for Miami resident Elana Garces's steamed pork loaf recipe.
Nation's Best Home Cooks, Farmers, Fishermen, Pit-Masters, and Chefs
By Molly O'Neill
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Published by Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: November 16, 2010
Price: $50.00 (currently $27 on Amazon)