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Steal the Menu

A Memoir of Forty Years in Food

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eBook published by Knopf (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book

Four decades of memories from a gastronome who witnessed the food revolution from the (well-provisioned) trenches—a delicious tour through contemporary food history.

When Raymond Sokolov became food editor of The New York Times in 1971, he began a long, memorable career as restaurant critic, food historian, and author. Here he traces the food scene he reported on in America and abroad, from his pathbreaking dispatches on nouvelle cuisine chefs like Paul Bocuse and Michel Guérard in France to the rise of contemporary American food stars like Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz, and the fruitful collision of science and cooking in the kitchens of El Bulli in Spain, the Fat Duck outside London, and Copenhagen’s gnarly Noma.

Sokolov invites readers to join him as a privileged observer of the most transformative period in the history of cuisine with this personal narrative of the sensual education of an accidental gourmet. We dine out with him at temples of haute cuisine like New York’s Lutèce but also at a pioneering outpost of  Sichuan food in a gas station in New Jersey, at a raunchy Texas chili cookoff, and at a backwoods barbecue shack in Alabama, as well as at three-star restaurants from Paris to Las Vegas.

Steal the Menu is, above all, an entertaining and engaging account of a tumultuous period of globalizing food ideas and frontier-crossing ingredients that produced the unprecedentedly rich and diverse way of eating we enjoy today.

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Four decades of memories from a gastronome who witnessed the food revolution from the (well-provisioned) trenches—a delicious tour through contemporary food history.

When Raymond Sokolov became food editor of The New York Times in 1971, he began a long, memorable career as restaurant critic, food historian, and author. Here he traces the food scene he reported on in America and abroad, from his pathbreaking dispatches on nouvelle cuisine chefs like Paul Bocuse and Michel Guérard in France to the rise of contemporary American food stars like Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz, and the fruitful collision of science and cooking in the kitchens of El Bulli in Spain, the Fat Duck outside London, and Copenhagen’s gnarly Noma.

Sokolov invites readers to join him as a privileged observer of the most transformative period in the history of cuisine with this personal narrative of the sensual education of an accidental gourmet. We dine out with him at temples of haute cuisine like New York’s Lutèce but also at a pioneering outpost of  Sichuan food in a gas station in New Jersey, at a raunchy Texas chili cookoff, and at a backwoods barbecue shack in Alabama, as well as at three-star restaurants from Paris to Las Vegas.

Steal the Menu is, above all, an entertaining and engaging account of a tumultuous period of globalizing food ideas and frontier-crossing ingredients that produced the unprecedentedly rich and diverse way of eating we enjoy today.

Product Details
eBook (256 pages)
Published: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Knopf
ISBN: 9780307962478
Other books byRaymond Sokolov
  • Saucier's Apprentice

    Saucier's Apprentice
    Here is the first book all the great sauces of practical, workable system. Raymond Sokolov, the widely admired former Food Editor of The first to point out that the hitherto mysterious saucier's art, as practiced by the best restaurant chefs, is based on what amounts to an elegant "fast food" technique. And this is what he demonstrates in his unique, useful, and witty book: -- How to prepare, at your leisure, the three fundamental classic sauces (the "mother" sauces from which all others evolve: Brown, White, and Fish Veloute)... -- How to freeze them in one-meal-size containers, ready for use at a moment's notice... -- How to transform any of these basic put-away sauces, quickly and easily, into the exact ones that French chefs are famous for and serve in the finest restaurants... -- How to prepare the classic dish for which each sauce is traditionally used, with suggestions for enhancing simpler fare (the recipes run the gamut from Duckling a la Bigarade to Poached Eggs Petit-Duc -- that is, with Chateaubriand Sauce). Mr. Sokolov has conceived, then, a comprehensive collection of recipes -- authoritative, clear, and easy to follow -- as well as an inventive method of cooking for the average kitchen. Peppered with culinary lore and with reassuring accounts of the author's own experiences as a modern-day Saucier's Apprentice, here is a book that will appeal to every good amateur cook who wants to produce sumptuous fare at home for occasions great and small. From the Hardcover edition.

    A Canon of Vegetables

    A Canon of Vegetables
    101 Classic Recipes
    Raymond Sokolov applies to vegetables the original concept of his book THE COOK'S CANON: 101 Classic Recipes Everyone Should Know, fusing imaginative recipes with a wealth of food lore. His more than 40 years' experience as a cookbook author and food historian provide a wealth of background for vegetable recipes from around the world, from traditional American (succotash) to Chinese (Sichuan spicy tofu) as well as French (Spinach Mornay) and Italian (Pasta e faglioli). All the recipes are high points of the culinary imagination, great dishes in which vegetables are the featured ingredient. This is not a vegetarian cookbook. Many of the recipes include meat, but with the vegetables at center stage. For each vegetable discussed and each recipe, Sokolov provides historical and cultural background with many witty comments based on his wide reading in food history and his training as a classicist. Classic Comparisons: CHEZ PANISSE VEGETABLES by Waters, Harper, 1996, $35, 0060171472 (113,914cc, isis) VEGETABLES by Peterson, Morrow, 1998, $35, 0688146589 (27,191cc, isis)

    Why We Eat What We Eat

    Why We Eat What We Eat
    How Columbus Changed the Way the World Eats
    Sokolov says that Columbus greatly influenced our eating habits when such New World delights as tomatoes, chocolate, green beans, chili peppers, and maize were introduced into cuisine throughout the world and when the delicacies of the Old World found their way into the cooking pots of America. Sokolov is the Leisure & Arts Editor of The Wall Street Journal.

    How to Cook  Revised Edition

    How to Cook Revised Edition
    An Easy and Imaginative Guide for the Beginner
    A fully revised and updated edition of Raymond Sokolov's classic kitchen primer for beginning chefs of all ages, filled with 150 simple, sophisticated recipes, easy–to–learn techniques, and indispensable advice. First published in 1986, Ray Sokolov's How To Cook is the ultimate book for beginning cooks of all ages. Unlike most kitchen primers, How To Cook does not assume any prior cooking instruction or skills, but rather guides the reader through the entire cooking process with simple explanations in ordinary language. There are no fancy cooking terms or special gadget here, just easy, indispensable techniques and foolproof recipes for every occasion. In this revised paperback edition, Sokolov addresses the increased sophistication of even adamant non–cooks in today's food–obsessed climate, while he sticks to the unfussy, straightforward approach that made the original such a hit. Home cooks will learn everything they need for years worth of fabulous meals, from how to decipher recipe measurements, to how to fry an egg, to how to steam a lobster. Even readers weaned on frozen pizza will find recipes they can master, for last minute meals, special occasions and entertaining, and even holidays–all made from scratch with fresh, accessible ingredients. Experienced cooks will appreciate the simple elegance of such flavorful dishes as Veal Scallopini or Pears Poached in Red Wine. Written with Sokolov's trademark wit and wisdom, How To Cook is an invaluable kitchen classic you'll turn to again and again.

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