Cookbook review by Oliver Pollak

How to Cook Like a Man, A Memoir of Cookbook Obsession

by Daniel Duane

New York: Bloomsbury, 2012, $24

 

 

This is a bibliographic culinary romp of preparing and eating foods from books by famous chefs. Daniel Duane, of Catholic Irish background, was not born to cook. He came to it through nurture and marriage. His Montessori teacher was Alice Waters later of Chez Panisse; and, he married Elizabeth Weil, the granddaughter of Bernard Schimmel. Schimmel, longtime chef at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha, is the contested inventor of the Reuben Sandwich, named after Reuben Kulakofsky, and the author of the 1976 Joslyn Presents Bernard Schimmel’s Masterpieces. Omaha fills the first three pages and reappears throughout its 200 pages.

 

His obsession leads to preparing much of the food in several cookbooks by Alice Waters and Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Bouchon fame. He ends his gustatory madness by eating at several of the highest end Las Vegas restaurants. There is an element of sycophantism but he chose his heroes carefully.

 

He went from a bachelor’s repertoire of burritos to preparing full course meals that satisfy gourmets and children alike.

Daniel read and cooked his way through or around two children, a dog, house remodeling and his wife’s literary career.

 

If you liked Julie and Julia, food, and the herculean accounts of reading and compulsively replicating cover to cover, you will enjoy this book.

 

I sent copies to both my sons who cook imaginatively for their spouse and our four grandchildren in San Francisco and Berkeley. They got that gene from their mother. They are locavores and frequent community farmers’ markets, the Berkeley Bowl and Trader Joes. And remember Bernard Schimmel’s advice, “Fresh products…vary greatly in flavor, and you should let your taste buds tell you what to add, making each recipe your own.”