Classic Cookbooks: The Flavor-Principle Cookbook


flavor principle cookbook
Back in the late 1970s, I left my human-services job, sold my banged-up car, and used the proceeds to spend three months wandering blissfully from London to Istanbul. I was stunned by the food I ate (mostly from street stalls) and returned home determined to expand my meager cooking skills. Fortunately, at just that time a friend gave me Elizabeth Rozin's Flavor Principle Cookbook. The premise of this slim, uncomplicated volume is that by combining a handful of characteristic ingredients, you can create "flavor principles" that evoke—if not precisely duplicate—the world's cuisines. One of Rozin's characteristic French flavor principles, for example, is Butter-Cream + Wine Stock; a typical Chinese one is Soy Sauce + Sherry-Ginger. Sure, it sounds simplistic in this age of cookbooks focused on not just national but regional and even municipal cuisines. But the premise is sound, and the recipes ideally suited to an inexperienced cook; I learned a huge amount from it. Unfortunately, the book is now out of print (a revised and expanded version was issued as The Ethnic Food Cookbook in 1992, but for me the expansion crippled the straightforward charm of the original). But if you don't mind paying $40 or more, you can find copies on the Web. And it will be worth it—almost 30 years later, I'm still making many of those recipes, from succulent Roast Pork with Apricot Sauce (Soy Sauce + Garlic + Fruit) to tender, aromatic Middle Eastern Stuffed Chicken (Honey-Nut + Tomato + Cinnamon-Lemon). And you can't ask more from a cookbook than that.

Subscribe to Gourmet