Are You Food Literate? Nourishing Lessons from Madison and McGrutherApr 12, 2014
A surprisingly good article entitled “Good Greens” came out in the New Yorker this week. As expected, the title pays homage to the goodness and healthiness of vegetables and references the deliciousness of the vegetarian recipes in The Greens Cookbook and other work by Deborah Madison. But then things get interesting when New Yorker writer Jane Kramer says Madison’s latest book, Vegetable Literacy, represents a “stealth operation” in which she slyly recommends we add a little chicken stock, ham, bacon or other flesh foods to her vegetable dishes. Indeed, Kramer thinks Vegetable Literacy is Madison’s best book ever because she seems freer, more authentic and is unashamedly serving up “vegetable recipes for carnivores.”
Yes, indeed! And while the New Yorker would have been more correct to use the word omnivore instead of carnivore, the takeaway is clear. It’s time to stop kowtowing to vegan opinion and tuck into meat again. What’s more, meat ingredients are showing up in cookbooks that once would have catered entirely to the vegetarian market. While Madison’s recommendations may seem surprising to those who have assumed that the author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone must be a vegetarian, her omnivorism has been a matter of public knowledge at least since 2002 when she published Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America’s Farmers’ Markets.
The New Yorker doesn’t mention it, but Madison recently heartily endorsed Jennifer McGruther ‘s The Nourished Kitchen, a cookbook that unabashedly espouses “nose to tail” eating with recipes for liver, bone broth, marrow and even offal. Recipes use plenty of tasty old-fashioned fats like lard and tallow and bid us to tease our taste buds with lots of butter and bacon. Jenny is an unabashed omnivore though chapters on greens, fruits and vegetables also make it clear she’s fluent in “vegetable literacy.”
Madison writes: “I love this book. It’s gorgeous, informed and filled with wisdom based on old ways and common sense, the wisdom that we crave. At the same time, it is filled with flavor and style. Jennifer’s food is food that I already love, plus there’s new food that I am ready to try.”
I can’t top that endorsement, so I’m just going to add that this cookbook is going to get such an intense workout in my kitchen that it will soon be so dog eared and food stained that I’ll be buying another. I’ve been a “real foods” cook for years, but Jenny’s recipes look so mouth-wateringly good that I feel inspired to step up and cook even better food for my family. I’m not at all surprised this cookbook has gotten rave reviews from so many of my friends, colleagues and favorite bloggers, including Sally Fallon Morell, Joel Salatin, Sandor Katz, Sarah Pope, Kristen Michaelis and Sandrine Love. Saveur magazine honored it as one of Aprils’ Best Food and Drink Releases, and I expect it will go on to win many best “Cookbook of the Year” awards..
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