In my internet search, I happened upon Georgia Pellegrini's blog, in particular, a post about her family's quince trees. I commented giddily on her post, and an exchange ensued, first in words and then in preserves. She offered me a jar of her family's quince butter, and I sent her a jar of my earl grey tea jelly. Since then, I've kept tuned in to what she's up to.
Cooking is at the top of the list, as is hunting, foraging, and all the other correspondent good things. In the end, I didn't find my local quinces, but I found something better. A like-minded soul. And one who has found many other like-minded souls in her quest for the tradition and ritual inherent in great food, and the beautiful stories that come with finding passionate people who keep these foods alive.
Food Heroes: 16 Culinary Artisans Preserving Tradition, by Georgia Pellegrini, is a book that profiles sixteen such individuals. One of the best things about this food book is that it's about people. People who care deeply about the food they are preserving, whether it's olive oil, or beer, or butter, or figs. And Georgia seems to, in turn, care deeply about these people.
Not only is this a topic worth your time, but it's a great read, too. It's clear and well-written, and not without its artistic charm. I'm a big fan of short stories, and each one of these artisan's stories is a tidy package of literary prose, painting a beautiful scene, here the south of France, there the Puget Sound. And to top it all off, each story ends with a few lovely recipes!
One of which was Lemon Clouds Cheesecake, which I could not resist making. It's just about the simplest, most decadent little pie you've ever met. You must make this for a special dinner or make sure you have pie-eating people around, otherwise you'll eat the whole thing. Unless your diet requires you to eat a good deal of cream and eggs. Then, by all means, eat the whole thing. A simple mixture of lemon curd, cream cheese, and heavy whipped cream folded and turned into a graham cracker crust seemed so innocent at first...Good thing I have wonderful neighbors to help me out in situations like this.
So, why don't you leave me a comment telling me who your personal food heroes are, and you will be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Food Heroes by Georgia Pellegrini. The end date will be Wednesday, September 29 at midnight (EST). Please make sure to leave an e-mail address if you aren't linked to a blog, so I can contact you if you win!
Oooh, I'm first? I once read a perfectly wonderful article about Tamasin Day-Lewis (Daniel's sister) in Saveur. She shocked the author by taking home 'roadkill', and then proceeded to make something amazing with it. Your giveaway reminds me of her, and that I'd like to read more of her food writing.ReplyDelete
Oh, the book sounds fantastic! And I can't wait to check her out!ReplyDelete
I wish I could stop over for some of the lemon pie. Yum.
Gosh, so many inspirations...the one that comes to mind is my friend Chuck- who is the simply the most amazing cook/chef. Whips up amazing meals seemingly effortlessly. He taught me to be fearless in the kitchen =)
Currently, I am amazed by the hope and realism of all the wonderful vintners in the Willamette Valley. Summer came late and departed rapidly. Grapes meant for redness are left in a state of pink-skinned limbo. Everyone is cropping back to one little cluster and hoping for sunshine as the days grow shorter. There is a wonderful sense of kinship and awe of mother nature that the best wine makers seem to share. They are both economically worried and giddily challenged by the vintage. I salute them and love to remind everyone that wine and beer are agricultural offerings!ReplyDelete
Recently I've been inspired by many great food preservation blogs.ReplyDelete
Angelo Pellegrini is my food hero. He was a professor of Literature at the University of Washington and managed to write eight books about the pleasures of growing and making your own food. An Italian Immigrant that made a little Tuscany for himself in the Pacific Northwest. His book The Unprejudiced Palate written in 1948 is a classic.ReplyDelete
That lemon cloud cheesecake looks and sounds amazing! I'm not sure I can pick just one, but I can share with you one food blogger that always inspires me: Zen Chef. Such imaginative creations, he always inspires me to think bigger.ReplyDelete
My dad--the beekeeper.ReplyDelete
My dad. Cooked for us every single day.ReplyDelete
Also--- beyond excited that I'm not the first one to name her pops!
I have been so inspired all the foodie blogs I have been reading this year. I love to read about all the new and interesting things to use and do!!!ReplyDelete
We love Jessica Prentice and Fergus Henderson! Jessica promotes eating and sourcing local foods in season, while following the theme of the moons in her area of CA, while Fergus truly doesn't waste a thing by using the whole animal, so to speak. Both are very traditional and yet their views are quite striking- and appropriate for our time.ReplyDelete
We're also pleased to see Jamie Oliver's efforts in promoting local leanings and growing his own foods. Way to introduce this sort of thing to the mainstream!
Thanks for such an inspiring, instructional blog, btw! :)
AS an 8 year old I was given a copy of "Fanny at Chez Pannise" by Alcie Waters. It is a storybook/cookbook about her daughter's adventures in the restaurant, and I was so desperate the make the halibut wrapped in fig leaves that I scaled a neighbors fence to pluck the leaves from their tree. From then on, Alice Waters has been a major foodie hero for me.ReplyDelete
Ashley English is my food hero. Her books are well-written, beautiful and easy to digest (no pun inten...well yes it was). Even though I haven't met her, her character shines through in her writing and you can tell she's just about the kindest person there is! You should look at her blog:ReplyDelete
I stayed with a family in Alaska for a week. They got most of their meats by hunting, with bow and arrows! Even the kids were experts. I showed them how to make caribou fajitas, and moose heart and liver pate. Those were a bit gamey. Anyhow, that family was a collective of food heroes. Two more: my grandparents from Mexico. They know how to make every single traditional dish, and also they can flare up any American cuisine with ease. I try to replicate their recipes often.ReplyDelete
Jamie Kennedy. The man is so devoted to local he almost bankrupted himself because he refused to buy lesser produce. That's dedication.ReplyDelete
Lemon Cloud Cheesecake: what a lovely, welcoming name!
My Mom is my food hero. She learned to can from her grandmother, and she made sure that the tradition continued by teaching my sister and I. She took us to farmer's markets when we were little and instilled in us a love of fresh produce--that's heroic to me.ReplyDelete
New to your blog and love it!! I'm somewhat new to preserving and am always looking for new ways to change up the old recipes... Great ideas here!ReplyDelete
I'd say my food hero is.... wow... tough one... My grandmother does an amazing job of canning fresh chili sauce almost every year at 87 years old... My mother taught me how to appreciate food and how to see through a recipe to its general intent and then play with it to find new flavors and be flexible... My boyfriend's family in Montana for preserving homegrown or wild fruits and vegetables every season... and my good friend Idella who taught me how to can turkey! Delish... How could I ever pick just one??
discovered your terrific blog after the times... of course. lovely. not only you, but the stuff you pursue. like quince. the portland farmer's market has them now. but you're not in portland. i could fedex you some if you're still in need.ReplyDelete
food heroes: certainly keller, elizabeth david, fernand point, eleanor clark, she of "the oysters of locmariaquer". those names sound so very grand and yet... grandmother made quince jam back when in germany. i do have her recipe. lemon cloud cheese cake, why, fabuloso, must try.
thank you for your wonderful blog, i read it first thing, before doing my own at
James Bread, Jeff Smith, of course lets not for get the great Julia Child. My mother didn't like cooking at all, but I will say she was a lot better at it then she knew.ReplyDelete
I just finished "My Life in France" from Julia Child and have started "Appetite for Life" the biography of Julia Child. I am inspired by her drive and determination. Old cookbooks are a love of mine, but most of all those wonderful people around me-- those newly found in the blogosphere and the older ladies in my community that are more than willing to help me figure out old recipes and adapt them to modern ingredients.ReplyDelete
What a lovely post, what a beautiful book! Do you know that someone just this minute offered me quince, and I have no idea what to do with it. What should I do with it? That I would even ask you this underscores the obvious . . . you are one of my food heroes! I wouldn't enjoy blogging or preserving nearly so much if not for you.ReplyDelete
Also, Edward Espe Brown, who wrote The Tassajara Cookbook and helped me be not afraid in the kitchen.
Ooh, I have this on my wish list.ReplyDelete
I have so many food heroes. I come from a long line of people who truly loved food. My grandma's motto, which I try to live by, was "variety is the spice of life." She lived that in her cooking and was always welcoming new and different flavors. A famous person who has changed my cooking life is Michael Ruhlman. His book Ratio has brought so much freedom to my kitchen. I'm also incredibly inspired by the host of food bloggers that appear in my feed reader each day, of which there are too many to name individually. You guys are amazing and you provide me with so much inspiration and courage to try new things. My food is better and more adventurous because of all of you.
Alice Waters rocks!ReplyDelete
My food heroes are the members of my cook club. We take turns hosting 8-person dinner parties; each one is a revelation and an inspiration!ReplyDelete
How kind of you to offer this delicious looking book. I love Lynne Rossetto Kasper of public radio's The Splendid Table for the common sense way she promotes cooking, good ingredients, understanding of food history and chemistry, and of course enjoyment of good food. I also love all of you canning bloggers!ReplyDelete
I seem to rotate food heroes. Currently in love with Michael Pollan and Marisa at Food in Jars :)ReplyDelete
i resonate on so many levels with the gardening, cooking, eating and writing of nigel slater. his life in food is as graceful and filling as the stroke of a painter's brush.ReplyDelete
what a wonderful give-away julia! this book looks lovely. and congrats on the nytimes mention! :)
My Dad's vegetable garden was phenomenal producing gorgeous tomatoes, green beans, horseradish, summer and winter squash, pumpkins, peanuts, root crops, cole crops, all in urban southern California... fig trees, Italian nectarines, grapes, the best peach tree, lemons, fabulous tangerines, and putting them all up and teaching me to cherish home grown and put by...miss him, miss his garden!ReplyDelete
My Food Hero is Philip Cosentino. Who??? Well, I live in Silicon Valley and Philip owns what is the last orchard of its kind hidden amongst houses and condos. He has over 27 varieties of peaches! My god...and prickly pears! So many delights. He puts them all at a farm stand in front of his house, daily, with prices and a box to leave your money. He makes me feel like I live in a small town. And I love that he's the lost holdout of our historical orchards.ReplyDelete
my mother is my food hero - she's capable of coming home from her challenging job, looking around the fridge/pantry, and having something healthy and delicious on the table in an hour. i grew up being her sous-chef and it gave me a lot of appreciation for cooking from scratch and working with what you have on hand - my only cooking ambition is to someday be as good as her!ReplyDelete
My food hero...my oma (Dad's mom). She kept bees, a huge garden and loved to watch others enjoy the fruits of her labor!ReplyDelete
I've worked with some amazing chefs, but I'm still inspired most by my own parents who, despite being very poor when I was young, always put incredible food on the table. They are the best cooks I know!ReplyDelete
Food heroes.. I have so many. From the mom with toddlers who manages to actually cook a meal every night; to the 5-star chefs (Daniel & Mario spring to mind) who use time-honored techniques and insist on the best possible ingredients to consistently turn out excellence; to the farmers (Eliot Coleman, Joel Salatin) who prove again and again that diversified organic farming can feed the world and save it at the same time; to the urban grow-rillas who turn vacant lots and rooftops into productive greenspace to feed the neighborhood; there are more than I can count. But my first food hero? Julia Child. So warm, so funny, so sharp, so bigger than life. She taught us all, not only to cook, but to *love* to cook - fearlessly, with love, laughter and a hearty dose of wine.ReplyDelete
My greatest food hero is the ageless Jacques Pepin. After Julia first piqued my interest in cooking, Jacques took me to the next level with his insistence on technique, technique, technique. Once you master a basic method, you can do anything. It saddens me terribly that his two incredible books (La Technique and La Methode) have fallen out of favor with today's cooks. Not to mention his Art of Food, Volumes I and II. Plus he was my first Snout-To-Tail influence -- he uses it all!ReplyDelete
That book looks amazing! I'm probably going to have to buy it...ReplyDelete
My food heroes are pretty varied, but I figure I'll bring up someone that no one else has mentioned: Maggie Beer. She and Stephanie Alexander have done so much for slow food in Australia, and both have ranges of specialty items that are to die for. Can't wait to get home and get my hands on some...!
Otherwise, I say "Be your own hero!" :)
Love the "Be your own hero" comment and am totally TRYING to be! I have so many food heros but I would have to say the top ones are my grandmother Joy, who cooked from the garden but was inspired by travels to Italy, France and Spain as well as local Southeastern United States traditions, and Naomi Duguid and Jeffery Alford, a famous food writing couple who travel the world together and write books that are so beautiful and inspiring. They have built an entire lifestyle around traveling to remote places, meeting people and sitting in kitchens learning how to cook like the host cooks and then taking those lessons back, writing about them and sharing those lessons with the world. Amazing life!ReplyDelete
I would have to say I have two 'food heros' - the first is my dad who always had a garden as we were growing up. He instilled in us a love of fresh (organic before his time) food. The second is my friend, Heidi who shares a love of all things fun and filling. She is my foodie-soulmate and recently turned me into a canning fool!ReplyDelete