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  • Writer's pictureLisa Brosky

Bobby, Ina, Edward and members of the Ladies Guild, thank you for the memories and recipes

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

It was on a cold, wet, dark winter evening in Torino, Italy, when Chef Andrew Carmellini and I watched rotisserie chickens basting potatoes below to create rich crispy pillows of potato heaven. Later I would join Ina Garten for a grilled cheese “throw down” resulting in a three-cheese sandwich with mustard and mayo.

But it wasn’t until I met Bobby Flay and made 16-spice chicken with roasted red pepper sauce, that I realized how fun my food journey could be.

I picked up Bobby Flay’s MESA Cookbook while spending time in my favorite bookstore in Louisville, Kentucky. As I thumbed over the pages, a recipe for the 16-spice chicken grabbed my attention. I bought all the ingredients and made it that night.

If I had really stopped to read the recipe, I probably wouldn’t have made it. There wasn't just one sauce, there were two. When I made it the first time, I had spice jars, a food processer, strainers, bowls and nearly every kitchen gadget in play. But it was fantastic, and by now I have cooked my way through nearly the entire book.

The best part is that it started me on a culinary journey. I realized I could make really special dishes and that opened up a world of experimentation. I also fell in love with cookbooks. Especially those that told a good story.

Food at its heart is about community and culture. A good cookbook puts that altogether and encourages you to explore.

Edward Lee, a self-described “Korean-born, Brooklyn-bred chef who found his soul in Kentucky,” describes a literal culinary journey in his book “Buttermilk Graffiti.” His exploration of food and career unwinds in a colorful, poignant and often humorous tale of beignets, slaw dogs, shrimpers and smen, a Moroccan thyme-spiked butter wrapped in both mystery and tradition. He puts you in the moment so strongly, you are certain you can smell the spices cooking and yeast from rising bread. And, yes, there are recipes.

Among my favorites are cookbooks created by Ladies Guilds and Junior Leagues. “Clifton’s Culinary Crafts 1977” is a typewritten stroll through every potluck and holiday

dinner of my childhood. The opening salad is Apricot Jello Salad with cream cheese and Cool Whip. There are three versions of Broccoli Casserole; four Corn Pudding, and a “Franks and Bean Surprise.” I think the surprise was pineapple chunks. One last thing, I recommend casting a skeptical eye at anything labeled “Authentic,” as in Authentic Italian Pizza or Authentic Goulash.

Yes, I have cooked from this book. The truth is it had me chocolate sheet cake and Corn Pudding No. 2.

Now I must be off. I have an appointment with Yotam Ottolenghi at one of his London restaurants. We are going over the importance of making your own harissa for authentic Tunisian cooking. It should be quite an adventure.

1 Comment

Bruce Frost
Bruce Frost
Sep 19, 2023

Now I'm hungry 😊

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