Seasonal recipes with a literary twist
I was intrigued with the concept of Cooking with the Muse: A Sumptuous Gathering of Seasonal Recipes, Culinary Poetry, and Literary Fare, a collaboration between chef-educator Myra Kornfeld and Columbia University scholar and poet Stephen Massimilla. It’s a hefty book that I can see becoming a college text in addition to a lovely coffee table book, a great gift for anyone with an appreciation of both literature and food.
Layout and design:
The book is organized by the four seasons, beginning with Fall. Each season is broken up into sections, most by ingredient, sometimes by holiday or cuisine. Poems and essays are sprinkled throughout. The interior design is user-friendly on the recipe pages. There are a few too many fonts used, but none that aren’t readable.
Photography is used throughout.
Recipes include blackberry-fresh corn polenta tartlets with ricotta cream, fairytale eggplant parmesan, baked Seckel pears with pomegranate syrup, quick Vietnamese chicken pho, Goan green coconut fish curry, multi-mustardy mustard greens, power burger with mung beans and Bhutanese red rice, and peach-indigo blueberry crisp. Recipes are paleo-friendly and gluten-free friendly. Recipes include dairy, eggs, meat, poultry, and seafood.
What I liked about the book:
It’s not like anything I have seen before, the combination of the scholarly essays, the poetry, and the recipes. I also appreciated the occasional black and white how-to illustrations.
I wasn’t so keen on:
Recipes were not coded for special diets; nutritional analysis is not provided, which would be helpful for low-sodium eaters. The recipes are from all over the world, so at times the book doesn’t seem to have a point of view. The way the seasons are organized isn’t consistent, which also was confusing (e.g. one section is simply “Moroccan”, while most are related to ingredients).
people who love literature and cooking; paleo, celiac, gluten-free diets
Not recommended for:
Migraine, vegan, vegetarian, or low-sodium diets
A note about my cookbook reviews: In the past, I tested at least three recipes from each book, took photos, and described my experience. Due to my dietary limitations (extremely-low-sodium for my Meniere’s Disease and trigger-free foods for migraine relief), it is no longer possible for me to test the recipes and do them justice.