THE FOODIES COMPANION BOOK REVIEW
By Ian Alalden Holder
Review by The Cast Iron Pan Store
I worked with Dr. Holder for a number of years when he was the Director of Microbiology at Shriners Hospitals here in Cincinnati. Working in IT at the time, my association with him was usually getting his computer to start up after he’d installed something. But it gave me a chance to talk with him and discover a common ground. Namely the undying love for food and an appreciation of not only ingredients but the love that’s in its’ preparation. Dr. Holder at that time had enrolled in one of Cincinnati’s culinary programs and had encouraged me to do the same, but circumstances dictated otherwise. After he retired in 2002, I lost touch until he resurfaced on Facebook with his first book “The Foodies Companion”. I didn’t pay much attention until his second book “The Foodies Companion II showed up. I got both and set down to have a look as I know Dr. Holder loved to share his culinary works with the Hospital staff.
At first glance, they are not cookbooks in the traditional style. I like to refer to them as cooking books more in line with Frank Tolberts “A Bowl of Red” as they tend to tell stories about food in addition to offering tips on ingredients and preparation before they hit the pot, along with some history to go with it.
Some books on cooking are just that. These books are unique in as much as they constitute a read more than just a reference. There’s no table of contents or index so you might want to have some post-its handy for bookmarks. In addition to being extremely easy to read, once you start they’re almost impossible to put down (as my spouse found out). Even if you have a pot boiling over on the stove. There’s a lot to be garnered by reading the books that all true foodies will appreciate both knowingly and appreciatively. Both volumes are broken into sections regarding tips, trivia, and history of food with such tips as using 80 proof vodka to reduce Gluten. Preparation and seasoning ideas abound as well as substitutions, weights and measurements, and general handling. Smaller recipes are lightly drizzled among the content for such things as Tandoori Marinade and Chinese 5 powder spice. Volume II caps off the series with some of the authors favorite recipes.
There are also excellent sections on meat preparation and baking that you’ll want to ingest as well. All in all, there’s not much about cooking left out and if you’re just starting to learn, these two volumes are must haves. Even experienced cooks will enjoy the material presented both knowingly and with a smile. For myself, I’m off to make the Peameal Bacon on page 104 of Volume II. I know you’ll enjoy the read as much as I did.
If you only get 1 of the books, this you’ll definitely want. Filled with great information on all aspects of culinary advice. Available from Amazon.
Part 2 of this excellent series. Filled with more great information on all aspects of culinary advice. Available from Amazon.