Food Reporting Syllabus
Assignments 7 through 12

Recipes and Stories That Capture the Essence of the Black Diamond
by Patricia Wells
Photography Jeff Kauck
William Morrow Cookbooks
© 2011
When the textbook is written describing the studied career of a food writer and restaurant critic, the model will be Patricia Wells. She was a news beat reporter for The New York Times. Her bio steps note, in order, the broad term journalist, then author and culinary teacher. She and her husband balance their joint research and writing careers between Paris and Provence.

Besides her dozen-plus cookbooks, Ms. Wells produced the ultimate dream guides for visitors to Paris...her annual Food Lover's Guide to Paris. (See Bonus 96, Syllabus Book 74)

Oh, about the Wells treatment of what may be the ultimate food item in a reviewers career: Truffles. Chances are few newspaper food writers will ever have the opportunity or pleasures experienced by Ms. Wells in Simply Truffles. So, the rare black truffle is presented by the global restaurant and food writer for our time.

Before moving on, remind me to do a recall on Chef Jean Banchet's baked Truffle Brie enCroute, his Le Francais presentation. D.P.C.

English Bread and Yeast Cookery
by Elizabeth David
Biscuit Books
© 1994

Review Pending

Bonus 4:
Uncle John's Original Bread Book
© 1961

Review Pending

The Settlement Cook Book
The Way to a Man's Heart
by Nancy Rommelmann
Compiled by Mrs. Simon Kander (*) The Settlement Cook Book Co. Twenty-Eighth Edition c. 1947
© 1947

(*) From Forepage: Tested recipes from The Milwaukee Public School Kitchens Girls Trades and Techincal High School. Authoritative Dietitians and Experienced Housewives

About this subtitle...girl folk, that's the way it was in the 1940s. Home cooking was a housewife chore. Women in offices were there to get coffee for the male boss. Rosie the Riveters were just beginning to assert them selves. Gloria Marie Steinem was still on a Toledo playground and had yet to be invented. The word feminist was unknown priot to World War II. When Mrs. Kander penned this book women were forced to choose between marriage and a career. In Mrs. Kander's world...there would never be a woman heading a major corporation. There would never be a woman secretary of state. In the Kander era Hillary Clinton would be in her husband's kitchen baking cookies.

The Way to a Man's Heart? History...just like cook book way back when was two words in our pre-Google decades..

Bonus 5:
Suggested by a culinary professional, James B. Simpkins,
San Rafael, CA
Larousse Gastronomique
The World's Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia
Compiled by Librairie Larousse
Clarkson Potter/Publisher
Random House, Inc. New York
© 1938, revised 1988

Now that we've been advised by a good writer about bluffing our way in food discussions, i.e. pretending to know what the hell we're taking about when it comes to food, go for the pro --- hundreds of them.

Larousse Gastronomique is a one-volumn, 1,300 pages of food history, eating, restaurants, cooking terms, techniques for the beginner to the kitchen pro. It is not a resource for want-to-be writers seeking style. It is a compact source for those fact checkers, also known as copy editors.

How does it fit on a food writer's shelf? America's ultimate teaching chef, one who teaches from a cooking line, not with bam bam antics... meet Charlie Trotter: "Just like a grammarian encouraging pupils to learn by looking up words in the dictionary, so to, do I point cooks in the direction of Larousse to understand culinary concepts."

Trotter hands his kitchen-load of interns the weighty English edition, six pounds of career resources to last a lifetime for serious culinarians intending to earn a living as informed food writers.

Bonus 6:
Rumford Complete Cook Book, First Edition 1908; 41st Edition 1947

Why this entry? Comment Pending

The Cook's Canon
101 Classic Recipes Everyone Should Know
by Raymond Sokolov
Harper Collins Publishers
© 2003

Up front understand this Sokolov work is no flirtation with anything more sacred than his worshiping of food. His canon relates to his trained basic rule or principle of good taste, his good taste resulting from world travels in search of food experiences. As a matter of fact, Sokolov's long-running column for the tony mag Natural History was called A Matter of Taste. But his widest readership for this rather new century came when he was roving restaurant reviewer for the Wall Street Journal. He wrote the Eating Out column for the WSJ from 2006 to 2010. Why his departure? His foodie fans may never know, so, in lieu thereof, The Cook's Canon must suffice.

Sokolov's reviewing travels provided a weekly mystery for legitimate food writers. They flipped to the Journal's fun-read sections... those arriving with the Murdoch flock, those pages not previously devoted to coal loading figures out of West Virginia, to see where and what the man found interesting the week prior.

For writer-training this is not a book of recipes, per se. Yes, there are recipes running the alphabet... apple pie to zabaglione. But history and circumstance for each get more ink than all those measured items. Osso Buco alla Milanese, for example, is a prep trip until you reach its "rich mouth feel." That's writing far beyond Fanny Farmer.

Consider the writer's research on coq au vin. His research dates back to the century this was a recipe for rooster in wine. Read the background and learn about the sexing of chickens. Enough said. For Sokolov he found the diagrams of such to be the poultry world's equivalent of pedophile literature. If Julia Child touched on sexing chicks, I missed that page.

To consider the freshness of this book-suggestion and any comparison of old, never do I recall those annual reprints of Old Farmer's Almanac offering tips on Couscous Chick Chick or Billi Bi.

Call Amazon soonest for any copies out there on some recluse's shelf. Lastly, Harper Collins should serve humankind and do a reissue.

Raymond Sokolov on WikiPedia

The Minimalist Cooks at Home:
Recipes That Give You More Flavor from Fewer Ingredients in Less Time
by Mark Bittman
Broadway Books
© 2000, 2002

If there is a recipe writer today with more pots boiling, it is Mark Bittman. As an authority on the recipe, his for more than a decade have been turned into a dozen (at least since noon yesterday) cookbooks. I started reading Bittman with this 2002 Minimalist.I became a Bittman Booster when he appeared in ink as a critic for The New York Times. Of all the Times's eat-for-pay reviewers there was something in the Bittman columns that took readers beyond what was on his dinner plate.

Bittman professes a love of eating in restaurants. He is impressed by great chefs. He has dined and researched international cuisines. And once he wrote: "I have become, in effect, a recipe hunter." His recipes are for the home cook. Unlike many of the star chefs, who, with their names on cookbooks best for tea table display...those calling for ingredients found only in three foreign countries away, Bittman tends to suggest ingredients sold in your nearestsupermarket.

For a cookbook collector such as this writer, one who doesn't do much more in a kitchen than boil water for tea, Bittman is a pleasant read.

The day this syllabus first took form, Mark Bittman was in the first name notes. But,not for his recipes or the resulting cookbooks. Mark Bittman is an op-ed columnist for The Times.


Bonus 7:
Mark Bittman: How to Cook Everything, The Basics
by Mark Bittman

Content Pending

Bonus 8:
Born Round, The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater
by Frank Bruni

Well, here's another one of those big time talent changes. Like Mark Bittman, a beautiful food writer and restaurant critic some time back, Frank Bruni has been moved from the Times Dining section to the op-ed page...a one-pager. Food writing students should be reading Bittman and Bruni in depth.

Born Round is a personal story for Bruni.

The Culinarian: A Kitchen Desk Reference
by Barbara Ann Kipfer
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Pending


Bonus 9:
Culinary Classics and Improvisations
by Michael Field

Review Pending