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Review in The US Review of Books

Myra Kornfeld Reviews and interviews 0 Comments

Cooking With the Muse: A Sumptuous Gathering of Seasonal Recipes, Culinary Poetry, and Literary Fare
by Myra Kornfeld and Stephen Massimilla
Tupelo Press

reviewed by Jacquelyn Gilchrist

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“This cook’s literary book is also a book lover’s cookbook.”

With delectable dishes, poetic masterpieces, and gorgeous, full-color photographs, this volume is a feast for the senses. The authors draw on seasonal inspirations to offer a palate-pleasing selection fit for a king, with cleverly paired literary pieces accompanying the recipes. This “book lover’s cookbook” begins with autumnal selections like Spiced-Baked Miniature Apples paired with Thoreau’s “Wild Apples.” Rumi’s “A Gift for You” is appropriately matched with the Tunisian-Spiced Pumpkin and Lentil Soup. Moving on, the book turns toward winter. This season is celebrated with hearty fare, such as Celery Root Purée. This exciting side dish is paired with one of the most evocative of Massimilla’s poems, “Celeriac.” Massimilla’s ode gives such personality to this root vegetable that the reader might almost feel guilty about cooking it. Winter is followed by recipes that pay homage to spring and summer. The accompanying literary fare feeds the soul and imbues the culinary instructions with a transcendent character. The historical and linguistic tidbits are of particular interest, like the “Poet’s Notes” on skates and purple potatoes.

When writing a cookbook, one of the challenges is to curate recipes that will be universally appealing. The authors have more than met expectations in this regard. They take their inspiration from cuisine that hails from around the world, as well as dishes that epitomize Americana. The recipes are approachable for novice cooks and avid chefs alike. Perhaps even more impressive are the irresistible poems and passages. They make it all but impossible to thumb through quickly in search of a recipe, as one’s eye is instantly drawn to the texts. This well-crafted cookbook would make an enviable addition to any kitchen.

RECOMMENDED by US Review

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