And yet, when I sat down and started reading I was hooked. Possibly because the author starts out by admitting that she stalked one woman in the grocery store. You know the one: cart full of Lunchables, boxed pasta mixes, jars of gravy, frozen waffles. I have stalked a similar woman out of sheer curiosity. What I didn’t do, though, is what the author did. Kathleen Flinn managed to strike up a conversation with this woman and ultimately discovered that she shopped the way she did because she didn’t know how to cook.
As someone who cooks from scratch pretty much daily, the idea of not knowing how to cook blows my mind, though I know there are plenty of people out there who just never learned thanks to generations of packaged foods and the demise of Home Ec classes in the schools.
A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, the author definitely knows how to cook – and cook well. Her encounter with the lady in the supermarket inspired her to share those skills with others who simply couldn’t find their way around a kitchen. With her unpretentious manner, the author convinced nine volunteers to take part in what she called her “project.”
The lessons – from knife skills to cuts of meat to spices and seasonings – are chronicled in a narrative format that introduces readers to the volunteers and their shortcomings in the kitchen and follows them as they learn to master the skills needed to cook for themselves and their families. Each chapter concludes with a recipe or two, and there are bonus recipes included in the back of the book. Unlike a lot of other narrative non-fiction books I’ve picked up, this one held my interest from beginning to end and I found myself taking mental notes about improvements I could make in my own kitchen.
This book would be a great gift for a new bride or for a young person heading out into the world, but it’s an enjoyable read even for folks who are comfortable with a skillet and grill.