Take a great, big, deep breath. Hold it. Exhale.
Because guess what? We can relax. Not everyone who writes about damn good food is an elitest asshole. Nor are they pretentious or high and mighty. As much as I want to go for drinks with Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman and maybe even Gwenyth Paltrow (just to see what the fuss is all about), more than that I really want to spend a weekend with Erin Gleeson. And not even in a dirty way.
Her gorgeously illustrative cookbook, The Forest Feast, turned one this month. It’s hard to believe that I’ve spilled that many cups of tea on it. Countless hours have been wasted, err, reveled in as I’ve foraged through the pages. I haven’t shared it here before because I am an idiot. Clearly. But after seeing her update on Instagram I thought, “hot dang, you guys would like this”.
The Forest Feast is loaded with 100 “photographic recipe illustrations”. Real food recipes splashed with not just my tea but also Erin’s incredible art. Take a culinary school textbook and look the exact opposite way. There is no preaching. No rules. No cans and cannots (unless you count string around mason jars – get it?). No boring blocks of text that go on for pages and pages. No pretense. No elitism. No bullshit. Just really fucking good, salt of the Earth, delicious food. And whimsical art. And so many beautiful, practically edible pictures.
Erin’s beautiful handwriting is inscribed all over the New York Times Best Seller, encouraging us to do the same and showing us the life behind the food. A reminder we all need from time to time. In the middle of the week when it’s 6PM, there’s a questionable half an onion in the crisper and some dry leftover pasta in the cupboard it’s easy to say plug it, let’s order pizza. And I’m all for ordering pizza. Pizza! But when we’re busy and crazy and all over the dirty, messy place that is so often our lives, it’s important – and a god damn fine luxury – to remember that people make up the meal.
Not in a gross, cannibalistic Hannibal kind of way (which should be starting on NBC soon! Eek!) but in a pleasurable, life centered, mindful kind of way*.
It’s whimsical, it’s informative, it’s entertaining. And then when you finally bring yourself to put the book down and actually whip up a dish, it’s also delicious. It didn’t take much convincing from the lady that creates my furniture to very quickly become addicted to the Kale Caesar Salad with Polenta Croutons on page 90. But I can’t even begin to start listing the dishes in her book that you should attempt. Just try all of them. Make it a project. A delicious, veggie filled, nutritious, amazing feeling, 100 day project. And then invite me over for dinner.
Though I’ll definitely be expecting to inhale the Leek Medallions, Honey Pepper Fresh Figs, Blackberry Negroni, Bay Potatoes, Cinnamon Cauliflower, Squash Blossom Pizza, Fried Banana Split, and one huge mother of a Beer Float.
You’ve been warned.
Erin’s funny. She cooks. She draws. She gets her fresh produce from a CSA. She has excellent taste in dresses… Girl friend’s got mad style.
Is it wrong Gwyneth got included in that lot of influential food thinkers? Who makes you want to eat books? Have you read The Forest Feast? Ever felt inspired to pick up and move to a cabin in the woods? What dishes do you love? What cookbooks make you happy?
*No humans were consumed in the writing of this blog post.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Abrams Books sent me a review copy at no cost. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions and information is entirely accurate and a reflection of my true experience and was not influenced, in any way, by the above mentioned products. Opinions and views are my own. Because that’s how I roll, yo. I’ve never been one to shut my mouth – I’m not going to start now.