Posted 05 October 2003 - 04:20 AM
Posted 09 October 2003 - 03:51 PM
First I want to thank you for hosting this forum. I enjoyed myself enormously. So many of the questions were really provoking. And thank you for your very good question.
Since I believe my books form a kind of "life continuum" of my interest in the Mediterranean region, I don't worry too much about leaving something out of a particular book...since I know I'll be writing another one. Meanwhile, I've never tried to write a definitive book on Mediterranean cuisines, or claimed that I have done so. And I've never really invented a recipe.
The photographer Ansel Adams said "the negative is comparable to the composer's score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways." As you know, a recipe can never quite capture the true taste of a dish. That's the responsibility of the cook. I just try to provide a good blueprint. (Sorry about the mixed metaphors here!) Personally, I don't see much point in writing about food that's been written about by others. The Mediterranean is a huge region. I like to think I can contribute best by breaking new ground.
On the other hand, if there's a recipe that interests me, and it's already in another person's cookbook, and I'm not all that crazy about his/her version, I'll try to turn up something better through field research and then testing in my own kitchen. Of course there's never just one way to make a dish. I continue to believe that if I search long and hard enough, I can come up with the best possible version. I hasten to add that I've been criticized for this; to my amazement, apparently some people prefer a pedestrian version to a version that takes extra time and effort, especially if there're any chef's "fingerprints" on the recipe.
In my view, every step in a recipe should work toward the final result, every nuance has a meaning, and in the end, something wonderful can occur. I have a food-writer colleague (I won't mention her name here) who prides herself highly on her writing, but then tells me "the recipes aren't all that important." I just don't see it that way at all. To me, the recipes are everything! But each to his/her own.