Last week, I went to hear Christopher Kimball, of America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Illustrated, speak in Maryland. I wasn't sure what to expect, as I do subscribe to the magazine, but have never watched the show. Christopher was on a book tour, sharing details of his latest book "Fannie Farmer's Last Supper" and I have to say that he captivated the audience.
First of all, I love Cooks Illustrated, a magazine that has been in print for about 20 years, has no advertising and great objective articles. The test kitchen uses pans at all price points and provides feedback to the reader, explains why fried chicken fries and provides tips like "add seltzer water to your waffle recipe for fluffier waffles." For this cook, it has everything.
To be honest, I have not yet read the book but during his remarks, Mr. Kimball opened my eyes to the historical perspective of food and the ways in which cooking had evolved throughout history. To give a little background, the book details the trials and tribulations the Mr. Kimball and his staff experience while cooking a 12-course meal, similar to one found in Fannie Farmer's time, during the Victorian Era using a wood burning stove and preparation methods used during that time as well. For example, gelatin used for the Molded Victorian Jellies was made using cows hoofs, not using a packet of Knox brand gelatin.
I walked away from hearing his remarks hungry to learn more about the History of Food, how people of the past let the harvest determine their menus, and how women and cooking have evolved through history, from spending 7 hours a day in the kitchen while their husbands went off to work in the Victorian Era to the women of today who work a full time job and can have dinner on the table in 30-minutes.
Happy that I went to hear Mr. Kimball and hungry for more of what the cooking world has to offer...
Check out the website to learn more about the book and the upcoming PBS special. http://www.fannieslastsupper.com/