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Flavor by Rocco Dispirito


mcohen
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For those interested, I saw them on sale at TJMaxx on clearance for about seven dollars alongside all these anonymous, crumpled cookbooks strewn about the bargain bin. To me, it seems like a metaphor for Rocco's career.

Is it a worthy addition to a cookbook library, or is it one of those vanity chef books with recipes don't work in the home kitchen?

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For those interested, I saw them on sale at TJMaxx on clearance for about seven dollars alongside all these anonymous, crumpled cookbooks strewn about the bargain bin. To me, it seems like a metaphor for Rocco's career.

Is it a worthy addition to a cookbook library, or is it one of those vanity chef books with recipes don't work in the home kitchen?

I would expect to find a full page face photo of rocco on every odd and even numbered page.

Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.
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I saw it and bought it - while on vacation no less. For $7 how bad could it be. Though I have not cooked anything from it, I flipped through it in my hotel room and I actually like it.

I should note that I rarely cook from a recipe and usually use books as inspiration. So asking me if the recipes are doable at home is probably not a good idea.

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I would expect to find a full page face photo of rocco on every odd and even numbered page.

There's a big ol' picture of him on the cover(which you could take the sleeve off) and photos of him in the introduction, but after that, its not that bad. Then, the photos, which are really high quality, are focused on the dishes.

Completely unrelated to food, but the book that best matches that discription would be Stacy London and Clinton's What Not to Wear book. With that book, it really was all about them where all the pictures were focused in on them where they completely overshadowed the person who was supposed to be the body type that chapter was discussing.

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I've mentioned it favorably at least a couple of times on here.

I think it is a worthy addition to just about any kitchen library. It might be the best book out there dealing with how to build and balance flavors in a dish. Or at least how a then-modern well-regarded chef in a top NYC restaurant would go about it.

There's a decent index on what is in season when (obviously from a NY perspective). he also distinguishes between what still is best thought of as seasonal (tomatoes) and what, although formerly a seasonal product, is now available in adequate supply and good quality year round (oranges). Ok, I didn't look those up, but you get the picture.

I have not cooked from it recently. Most of the recipes I tried worked reasonably well. A handful at best though (par for the course for me).

I think it's strength is getting you to think about flavor combinations the way a chef would. I think there's also a bunch of charts grouping various foods into the sweet, sour, bitter, salty (maybe more ?) camps. Somewhat useful for making substitutions.

I also think it's from the time when Rocco seemed serious about cooking and having a big glossy tome that reflected that was de rigeur. So, I'm guessing a fair amount of effort went into it.

Anyhow, I think it's worth picking up.

Cheers,

Geoff

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I found another cookbook on clearance, Tom Kime's Balancing Flavors East and West, which I thought would be a useful exercise to skim through and compare to Rocco's book since it seeme so similar. Both books are by young western chefs who are heavily influenced by SouthEastern flavors and spices, where they're both trying to explain to the reader what makes a dish work.

Maybe, its just me, but from the title of Kime's book, I thought it would be more about fusion and balancing traditional eastern and western. Instead, Kime's book has both eastern and western dishes, but they're traditional dishes that don't really mix it up. If its a eastern dish, then its a traditional dish with eastern ingredients and vice versa.

From a food porn perspective, I liked Rocco's book more in that regards. There's a overall high production value in Rocco's book with its ravishing pictures that Kime's book just can't match. And, not just the pics, but Rocco's dishes themselved seemed kinda interesting. Another thing I noticed is that Rocco's dishes seemed more 'doable'- its not a long list of ingredients that only a chef in a profesional kitchen would do. This may or may not be a good thing since I haven't tested one of those recipes to see if Rocco ended up compomising the dish in order to make it more accesible for those at home. Surely, his dishes aren't that easy to make.

Both books try to show how they incorporate salty, sour, bitter, sweet taste sensations in their dishes with the ingredients they use in the dish. A really cool trick Rocco does is to use different colors for his ingredients, where the color indicates if the ingredient is salty or bitter or sour or sweet. It seemed Kime wanted to do the same thing, but didn't quite succeed. In kime's book, there's a list in the beginning that divides all these ingredients into those four basic tastes. The problem is when you're looking at the recipe, you'd have to continoulsly refer back to that page.

After looking at Kime's book, I have to begrudingly acknowledge that Rocco did write the better book.

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