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Jonathan Day

Complicated recipes

4 posts in this topic

First, a word of thanks for giving us this Q&A and even more for your lively participation in eGullet. I hope you are enjoying the site as much as we are enjoying your posts.

Some of your recipes are demanding of your readers. Even the cannelé recipe on your website calls for bees' wax -- not something many readers are likely to find in their local supermarkets. The cassoulet recipe takes more time and effort than many would put up with. You can look at many threads on eGullet (e.g. this one) that proclaim or bemoan time pressure and the need for shortcuts in cooking.

I don't find the length or complexity of your recipes a problem at all, and I enjoy reading your recipes for the richness and authenticity they convey. But I wondered what kinds of reactions you have had from readers and editors? Have you ever been under pressure to slim down, simplify, substitute, either because of lack of available print space or an editor's view that readers will never put up with a complicated recipe or one requiring unusual ingredients.


Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Hi Jonathan

Thanks for your very kind posting.

I'm pretty sure that if you go to a farmer's market and find someone selling homemade honey, you'll find a good source for bee's wax. It's cheap, lasts a long time and really makes a difference. Unless, that is, you opt for using Nordicware's mini molds.

I've been very lucky with my editors through the years. Generally they they indulge me. If a magazine "dumbs down" my recipes, I stop writing for it. In this regard, I was fairly surprised when egullet was dividing up the magazines, that no one chose FOOD & WINE. They've been wonderful with me, and I'm proud to have a regular column there. As for "people who bemoan time pressure and the need for shortcuts in cooking," they can always go for the simpler recipes in my books. And, hopefully, on a holiday or weekend when they have time to cook, they'll try a more complicated recipe and appreciate the difference in subtlety and depth. There are plenty of books on quick and easy cooking available; I totally respect those books, and have also chosen not to duplicate them. Certainly, this limits my sales, but then I have people who write me who've made my cassoulet once a year for the last 20 years. Their praise is like sweet music to me, and makes up for any loss of sales. Sometimes cooks will turn up ay my signings with tattered food-stained copies of my old books. I'm just as happy (if not more so) signing for these loyal fans as I am for purchasers of my latest book.


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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A Food & Wine recipe was actually my first introduction to you - it was a recipe for seafood bisteeya, in a 1998 or 1999 issue. It was exotic and somewhat complicated for me at the time... that recipe was the first time I had ever heard of preserved lemons, or chermoula. But what an introduction - it was delicious!!!!! I vividly remember tasting the chermoula from the blender and thinking, "oh, wow, this is going to be REALLY good." I've made it several times since - it is a lot of steps, but very fun to make. That particular issue of F&W is falling to pieces.

Jules

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Thank you for that great comment on my seafood bisteeya recipe. I published that recipe in Mediterranean Grains and Greens. It's hard bound but you might consider getting a copy. There are a lot of other really good recipes in it!!!

I can't believe I was so brazen. Forgive me.

Best, Paula


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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