Cooking with the Muse: A Sumptuous Gathering of Seasonal Recipes, Culinary Poetry, and Literary Fare.
Kornfeld, Myra (Author) and Massimilla, Stephen (Author)
April 2016. 500 p. Tupelo, hardcover, $39.95.
Literature and food make great companions. It’s proven, again and again, in this 150-recipe collection, with poems, excerpts, and just plain creative musings. Chef and educator Kornfeld provides the recipes; poet-professor Massimilla, much of the narrative and context for ingredients and rhymes alike. Such notables as Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda, and John Keats are suitably inserted in the appropriate places (e.g., Neruda with his paean to olive oil), and literary criticism appears from time to time. Each of the four seasons is introduced by a lyrical summary of what that period features, followed by the dishes and commentary. The history and romance of specific ingredients are highlighted (e.g., almonds are cousins to peaches; rhubarb, actually a vegetable, not a fruit, wasn’t fully included in cuisine until a century after Ben Franklin introduced it). The text is rich, and the recipes are not complicated (duck confit, after all, is usually not the easiest to make, but here it is). This creative and vibrant effort marries two highly imaginative endeavors.
— Barbara Jacobs