Holiday Cookbook Roundup
The Amateur Gourmet: How to Shop, Chop, and Table Hop Like a Pro (Almost)by Adam D. Roberts
Bantam Books, 224 pp., $25
With equal parts wit and passion, Adam Roberts invites readers to join him on his culinary cruise from processed-food priest ("My family kept Entenmann's, Chips Ahoy, and Fritos in business") to amateur gourmet. It's his accessibility and good-natured humor that keep readers humming through this slender but comprehensive guide. A guy who admits to ordering an American-cheese omelet just isn't going to intimidate the most foodie-phobic of readers. Roberts' epiphany that real, good food is simply tastier is so delightfully and lightheartedly relayed that readers can't help but share in his delight. It's enough to make you want to fire up some delicious extra virgin olive oil and cook your darlin' some ratatouille. Okay, maybe that's a little ambitious for beginners, so Roberts suggests you start by learning to cook a good and simple pasta sauce. He's talkin' onions, garlic, tinned tomatoes here, nothing that most inept cooks can't get a hold of and master. So what's so revolutionary about that? If yours is a palate that has only known the tastes of bottled Ragu, you'll be in for more pleasure than you thought possible from such humble origins, and you'll want more. At the very least, you'll delight in Adam's pleasure and join him as he ventures forth into the farmers' markets, fine-dining establishments, and his own kitchen and transforms himself into The Amateur Gourmet.