The Art of Simple Food Review

The Art of Simple Food Review
By The Cooking World, Editorial Staff
October 4, 2021

The Art of Simple Food I & II

In this week's Cookbook Review we decided to make something special. After your great feedback in our list of the Best Home Cooking Cookbooks, you decided to review one of the books that you have been talking about - The Art of Simple Food.

To make this a special review, instead of just reviewing The Art of Simple Food I we decided to add The Art of Simple Food II to this review.

The Art of Simple Food is an indispensable resource for home cooks from the woman who changed the way Americans think about food. Perhaps more responsible than anyone for the revolution in the way we eat, cook, and think about food, Alice Waters has “single-handedly changed the American palate” according to the New York Times. Her simple but inventive dishes focus on a passion for flavor and a reverence for locally produced, seasonal foods.

Photo by Mathew Scoot

The Art of Simple Food I: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution

The Art of Simple Food I is a book all about eat locally and sustainably. For more than four decades, Alice has been the champion of seasonal, local, sustainably produced foods. She has been showing the world that the true secret to good cooking is starting with the best-tasting ingredients.

In The Art of Simple Food, she brings this philosophy to 19 culinary lessons and more than 250 recipes that illustrate just how easy it is to eat wonderfully well if you cook, eat, and live by his fundamental guidelines. Here you will find Alice’s philosophy on everything from stocking your kitchen, to mastering fundamentals and preparing delicious, seasonal inspired meals all year long. Always true to her philosophy that a perfect meal is one that’s balanced in texture, color, and flavor, helps us embrace the seasons’ bounty and make the best choices when selecting ingredients.

The first part of this book is a series of chapters that review the basics of simple food, beginning with how to choose fresh ingredients and stock a pantry and how to decide what to cook. The chapters that follow focus on essential cooking techniques, with detailed explanations of the why's and wherefores and simple model recipes. In the second half of the book you will find more recipes in the same format, chosen because they are easily made once you are familiar with the techniques set forth in the lessons.

The simplicity and approach of recipes are reminiscent of the way our grandmothers might have cooked, without a recipe and from the knowledge of how food behaves. Although this is a book of fairly simple recipes, without complicated techniques or one single photo, this book has so much to offer that it is impossible to list everything in just one review. Like Salt Fat Acid Heat cookbook, The Art of Simple Food I is an essential book in any cookbook collection destined to be a classic.

The Art of Simple Food Review

The Art of Simple Food II: Recipes, Flavor, and Inspiration from the New Kitchen Garden

Following the success of the first book, The Art of Simple Food II brings together 200 new recipes that showcase Alice's passion for the many delicious varieties of vegetables, fruits, and herbs that you can cultivate in your own kitchen garden or find at your local farmers' market.

The Art of Simple Food II displays flavor as inspiration and embodies Alice's vision for eating what grows in the earth all year long. Here she shares her understanding of the whole plant, demystifying the process of growing and cooking your own food, and reveals the vital links between taste, cooking, gardening, and taking care of the land. Along the way, she inspires you to feed yourself deliciously through the seasons. From Rocket Salad with Babcock Peaches and Basil to Moroccan Asparagus and Spring Vegetable Ragout to Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, Alice shares recipes that celebrate the ingredients she loves: tender leaf lettuces, fresh green beans, stone fruits in the height of summer, and so much more.

The Art of Simple Food II takes the basic themes of The Art of Simple Food I one step further by bringing in the garden. The book is arranged into two parts. Part one, the larger section, is about garden grown ingredients and accompanying recipes. Beginning with Fragrant and Beautiful (herbs) and Tender Leaves (lettuces and salad greens) the book moves on to Hidden Flavor (garlic, onions, etc.), Growing Underground (roots and tubers), Heading Into Winter (Cabbage, Cauliflower, etc.) as well as many chapters to cover most of the fruits and vegetables available.

Each chapter opens with a general description of the subject, instructions on how to grow it, and a list and description of the many types and varieties, followed by recipes. Like in the previous book the recipes are written out with the ingredients as a part of the narrative (as opposed to listed individually before the instructions, which we prefer). Although this is not our preferred way to list the ingredients, these are bolded so it’s easy to scan the recipe beforehand to see what you’ll need and then follow along with the narrative when it comes time to cook.

Part two of the book, a much smaller back section, is called Seed to Seed and goes into specifics about gardening. Like in The Art of Simple Food I the amount of information in The Art of Simple Food II is enormous, both for the garden and the kitchen, making this an incredible book for any home cook.

The Art of Simple Food Review

Final Thoughts

The Art of Simple Food is not just a collection of delicious recipes. This is a collection of books that home cooks and foodies will want to read, to cook from, and to share with family and friends. Although the cookbook market is vast and growing every year, very few books have the quality of this collection. If you are a fan of home cooking cookbooks, you should definitely take a look at this collection.


The Art of Simple Food is a fantastic collection of books that have the information needed for anyone to learn how to appreciate how delicious simple, straightforward food can be.








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