An Everlasting Meal: Discussion!

I sat down to write this post with a rosemary cake in the oven, the recipe for which you can find on page 222 of An Everlasting Meal. It’s a test run for Mikey’s birthday party in June. He loves rosemary, hates frosting, and prefers cakes with dollops of whipped cream and fruit. I described to him the recipe and he asked me to make it for his birthday. Since it’s a rosemary cake, not exactly something you would find at most 8 year old birthday parties, I told him we would do a test run first to see if he liked it in practice as much as he does in theory. The smell from the oven is intoxicating.

This story about a rosemary cake is as much for me as it is for anyone. I retell it to remind myself that children can and do have sophisticated palates, and that there is life beyond nuggets. I have to admit, though, that the phrase “sophisticated palate” is the sort of elitist-sounding, quasi-hipster terminology that makes me want to poke my eyes out with a plastic spork. There has to be a better way to say, “I enjoy a wide and varied number of foods.” My point is, I read An Everlasting Meal and found many of the recipes better suited to a childless couple or singleton until I remembered that (1) Mikey and Nico are both adventurous eaters willing to try anything once and (2) the spirit of the book is to promote instinctive cooking, and if a recipe that calls for a Scotch Bonnet pepper seems unlikely, follow your instincts and skip it (the recipe or the pepper).

Overall, I enjoyed the book quite a bit and gave it four stars on Goodreads. The writing was clever, sometimes too clever, but overall I admired Adler’s ability to extract every last possible use from the ingredients in her kitchen. With each chapter I found myself thinking this would be how I would cook if I learned at the knees of my grandmother, someone who moved from Italy to Argentina and still walks busy city blocks to the butcher and then the produce vendor and then the baker.

Many people consider An Everlasting Meal to be life changing, which I understand. It’s the type of book you read once, and then again to take notes and mark important passages. I read it once and have fifteen post-it flags sticking out of the book.I hope I make the time to read it again. I feel I will get much more from it a second time around.

There are little things Adler does that wouldn’t occur to me, like saving the ends of onions for chicken stock. I use onions regularly and always toss the ends. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I want to start a compost bin; the waste bothers me. So when I read she saves the ends to use later for chicken stock, I had to laugh. I make chicken stock regularly and always use a fresh, whole onion. Never, not once, did it occur to me to save any of the vegetables ends I discard during the week for another purpose.

After I read that I started saving the ends and scraps and the chicken stock I made that week was better than any I ever made in 12 years of marriage. I later used the chicken stock in a sausage and kale soup that was also pretty darn tasty.

Most of the recipes in the book are made from odds and ends, mistakes and regroupings. There is a lot of adapting leftovers, lots of, for the lack of a better word, European eating. I’m not sure that’s the phrase I’m looking for, but I’ll use it until someone suggests something better. Simple meals made of simple ingredients, like a baguette and soft-boiled eggs over greens, that make dinner seem almost decadent. It’s strange to think of such a spare meal as decadent, but isn’t it, in a way? No rigid eating guidelines or courses, no formal “this is a dinner and we must dine” mentality.

It sounds crazy, to have a dinner that isn’t really a dinner. And then I remembered the night that in January when we ate a dinner that wasn’t a dinner.

And how we promised that we should do it at least once a week because it was so satisfying, so delicious. Number of picadas for dinner since January: zero.

Comments
50 Responses to “An Everlasting Meal: Discussion!”
  1. Hazel says:

    I loved this book. I tend to cook fairly instinctively anyway, so it suited my cooking style, but I still learnt a lot from the book. Incidentally, no one else in my family cooks, particularly. For my mother, preparing meals is a necessary job, but not one she relishes. She doesn’t bake. As a child I do remember fruit cakes in a sensible loaf tin and homemade green tomato chutney, but no other ‘extras’. Her cooking is good, but of the plain British meat-and-3-veg type. Neither grandmother did much beyond family tea time cakes and milk puddings. I didn’t taste garlic until I was 14 (Pizza Hut garlic bread!) and pesto until I was 19 (something my children find incomprehensible!)
    I read cookbooks and then modify the recipes to fit my needs. My instinct has been learnt, if you like.

    I was wary of the language in the book; the main criticisms I’d read had been of over-clever writing, but actually I found it enjoyable and not the distraction I had expected.

    I hate waste (I am on a continual mission to reduce our household waste) and have used some ideas I hadn’t thought of and was pleased to see some of what DH considers my stranger ideas justified in print! And with regards to the compost heap- just do it! Don’t over think it, just start layering brown stuff and green stuff. If it used to live, compost it (cotton fabric too scruffy to be passed on, scraps of paper, paper towels and napkins. It’s all brown stuff in composting. I even composted a straw ‘ali baba’ laundry basket once). If you can persuade any of the boys to pee in a bottle or bucket and add it to the heap (or even on the heap if it’s not in too public a spot!) the nitrogen will speed up the composting process! Sorry if that’s too much information on a food related comment thread. And off topic, sorry.

    I think people generally have too many preconceptions about what children will eat. My own three aren’t mad about very spicy food, and that’s fine, but millions of children are being brought up on curry and chilies, so being a child doesn’t automatically preclude you from liking hot foods.
    They do eat pretty much everything though and have fairly ‘sophisticated palettes’. Which only means, they eat what we eat, and always have done. I’ve never bought food specifically for them since they were on solid food, and I certainly don’t ever cook a children’s supper and then an adults supper. That’s not to say we don’t ever eat separately, but I don’t cook them fish fingers and then us plaice, say. Friends say I’m lucky, and that their children won’t eat pesto/kale/olives/brie etc because they’re too strong a flavour, whilst handing their child a packet of Pickled Onion Monster Munch. Eh?!

    We’ve definitely eaten more eggs and more greens (braised in olive oil with garlic was a massive hit) since reading the book, and I want to try out the ‘prepare all the veg in one hit’ method. It’s not something I’ve ever thought of doing, but I think it would be interesting to try out, and I can see the benefits.

    Anyway, sorry, waaaay too long a comment! Short answer: loved it, so glad I bought it. Thanks!

    • Jules says:

      I thought her writing was clever and a few times laughed. I hadn’t heard the writing was overly clever (I actually heard it was quite good) but I had a feeling it would be pseudo-intelligentsia. In my experience, people who tremble in excitement over a perfectly aged wheel of cheese tend to get flowery with their writing.

      I still haven’t prepared all the vegetables in one sitting, and that’s actually one of the chapters I want to reread. I want to try it and see how it goes.

      As for how kids eat, I’m like you in that I don’t prepare multiple meals. What we eat, they eat. I’ve never made nuggets for dinner, and if I did I would do it because it’s quick and cheap, not because I’m catering to their preferences.

  2. I should try more of this. We have a worm bin, but it seems like the worms can’t eat all the scraps we produce. Not viewing them as scraps but as starts is a great idea.

  3. Kelly says:

    A reviewer on GoodReads noted that she will begin rereading this book as soon as she finishes it. I agree. I often leave the house with this slim book, bringing a pencil and sticky notes, when I think I might have a spare five minutes to to find a use for lemons from a very happy tree or need to remind myself that I really don’t need to go grocery shopping.

    As you said, Jules, this book feels like the kitchen learning I may have had as a girl had I lived three generations ago, the kind of food education I tried to give myself starting around age 15. For many years now, I have cooked – a lot. I started off by teaching myself to cook, which often led to trendy meals with expensive ingredients that I used only once. In recent years, I have shifted to eating with the seasons using local produce and trying all sorts of DIY adventures (some of which I continue, some of which I never should have tried) in bread making, canning, gardening, etc. Despite what I would consider generous kitchen experience, I found Adler’s common sense approach to be liberating, refreshing, and so practical I can’t help feeling a bit silly that any of this should resonate as a set of new ideas. This point was nearly shocking for me: No! I don’t need to find a recipe for every dinner I make!

    This book is 40% commentary/reflection, 40% recipes (or loose versions thereof), and 20% encouragement. I’ve “followed” a recipe of Adler’s only twice: the citrus compote I forgot on the stove and turned to a pretty translucent stone in a jar, and the minestrone that was incredibly delicious (why had I never thought of tossing in ends of cured meat?). And I am nearly continuously making her soft-boiled eggs, with sliced-off tops and toast fingers, the favorite breakfast here for two of three kids. But I cannot even count the number of incredible dishes I’ve “thrown together” without a grocery run since I started this book. Quiche, frittata, tacos, salads, soups… All without actual recipes. The encouragement angle of the book is what hooked me. I know what items I need in my kitchen (only the ones I have), I can hold a knife, I don’t really care what a perfect chiffonade of basil should look like. I just need three meals a day for my family. Many times I felt Adler’s words like the injection of confidence I had with a grandmother standing next to me while I made my prom dress. Not that any grandmother of mine would have mentioned a past boyfriend, let alone referred to him “my Tuscan.” Nevertheless, I feel released from the insecure, recipe-following collective that Adler and so many modern cookbook authors include in their audience.

    For me, this is the value of Adler’s tale: Look past her occasional overly flowery language, and just set a pot of water to boil. As she says, you’ll figure out what to toss in there once it’s rolling. The only caveat I’ve encountered so far is an old burden for me: There is no poetry in that mountain of dirty dishes and pans.

    • Jules says:

      Thanks, Kelly. I loved what you said on Goodreads. How do you slice the tops off your soft-boiled eggs? Do you have that slicer thing, or do you use a butter knife? I also can’t believe how such simple ideas good be so enlightening to me. Seems ridiculous, but true.

      I laughed out loud about your pretty citrus compote stone. :)

  4. Susan says:

    I had every intention of reading this book; I even bought it since I know it *will* be a keeper. However, I’ve been totally engrossed in the Simplicity Parenting book that you recommended, that I never even opened An Everlasting Meal. That said, I grew up in a household with a narrow definition of dinner: meat, potatoes & veg. I don’t think my mother discovered rice until I was in middle school, and things like cous cous, quinoa, or polenta were totally unheard of. (Remember, my mother’s Scottish, and in her world view, potatoes are served with almost every meal.) Anyway, I look forward to reading everyone’s thoughts and to reading the book at my leisure. I hope to get some new ideas and create some excitement at the dinner table. Alas, my child does not have a sophisticated palate; however, we only make one meal for dinner — so at least I’ll be exposing her to an even wider variety of new foods, or just familiar foods prepared differently, even if she chooses to eat just the starchy stuff.

    • Jules says:

      That’s okay! I almost didn’t finish it because I started reading Game of Thrones! Not that GoT is that amazing…but it’s fiction and fiction will almost always draw me away from nonfiction. I’m so glad you like Simplicity Parenting!

  5. Kate P. says:

    I have a lot of thoughts about this book, but I’ll try to narrow them down. ;) At first I was quite put off by how many “must” statements there seemed to be – you MUST do this with leftover thus-and-such, this food MUST be prepared this way – strangely interspersed with many however-you-want statements. Then it dawned on me that Adler is, for lack of a better term, a zealot when it comes to her vision of what food is and what it does, so the nod-and-smile that I’d use with a borderline crazy relative came into play with the “musts” and I just kept reading rather than getting my back up.

    There are a lot of recipes and ideas in the book that I simply can’t use because of my husband’s extensive food allergies, and I few I won’t use because, well, I just don’t like olives and you can’t make me. ;) Although Jules has convinced me to try – and like – kale after childhood lunchlady kale trauma, so maybe even liking olives is possible. :)

    Beyond the actual recipes are the insights which Jules and Hazel have both referenced that I think are the most important take-away aspect of the book. I already roast a lot of vegetables at a time, but never realized how sensible it is to cook each type separately, as they often do cook at different speeds. I always save bacon grease, but hadn’t thought to save many other types of drippings, although the idea of countless little jars of unidentified liquids in the refrigerator is truly disturbing to me.

    This is a thought-provoking book. And yes, oftentimes Adler’s writing style becomes a bit much, but there is a great deal in this book to ponder, attempt and taste. Unlike many books – including most cookbooks – I know I’ll be going back to this one repeatedly.

    • Jules says:

      Then it dawned on me that Adler is, for lack of a better term, a zealot when it comes to her vision of what food is and what it does, so the nod-and-smile that I’d use with a borderline crazy relative came into play with the “musts” and I just kept reading rather than getting my back up.

      Yes. This right here sums up, for me, how to approach books like this. Anyone who can devote a chapter on how to boil water and then make a video about it is clearly passionate about cooking and is going to have definite ideas about how things should be.

  6. Ris says:

    I might be the lone dissenter here but I couldn’t even finish this book. I thought her writing style was way too over-the-top, and had trouble following the narrative strand. Are we talking about a recipe? No, wait, you’re talking about a memory, no, food in general, no, wait, what? That’s how I felt for about 80% of the book. Granted, I’m not an experienced cook, so maybe that’s where she lost me. I do think the book had a lot of good ideas (especially on how to avoid waste, etc) but the way they were presented made them seem unapproachable. I guess I need more structure, more “this many onions, heat them up for this amount of time” etc.

    • Jules says:

      I would be shocked if you were the only dissenter, though I give you hive fives all around for being the first to say you couldn’t even finish it. From what I have read online, the best book club books are the ones some love and some hate because it brings about good dialog. So, yay for that, sorry it had to be you who didn’t like the book. :)

      Anyone who writes “an omelet is an egg’s comeuppance” is going to put off readers. I like what you said about not being an experienced cook because as basic as many of the ideas that she wrote about were, they’re almost for experienced cooks, if that makes sense. At the very least, it’s for people who enjoy cooking more often than not. The writing…well. It’s quintessential foodie/intelligentsia writing, and I suspected there would be much of it when I saw that long piece of string dangling so artfully from her cut of her shorts in the video.

      • Kelly says:

        I like your comment about the intelligentsia focus, Jules. Sometimes it was more than a little off-putting for me, even though I really enjoyed this book overall. She completely lost me with

        “I can resist expensive oils and salts, but I fall under the spell of of little tins of cuttlefish packed in their own ink;Italian figs plumped with honey and wine; monkfish liver terrine; pin-sized baby eels.”

        It seemed like she wanted to keep her book open to a complete audience ranging from novice cooks to professional chefs, which is probably over zealous. Kate P above is right, Adler is a zealot! And, as Ris just confirmed, the message of this book is lost on a less experienced cook. Maybe that’s why I could ignore the occasional pretension.

        • Jules says:

          Oh, I know! That made me laugh. My Vons doesn’t carry cuttlefish in their own ink. I think you’re right. She is theoretically writing a book for beginners, but only a foodie will read something like that paragraph and not blanch.

  7. Susan G says:

    I did actually find this book life-changing, although I started to glaze over a bit at the end. And sometimes it felt ridiculous. “Don’t have anything to eat for dinner? No problem – just get out those leeks and out them in some water.” In my house leeks are only in the refrigerator when I have something in mind, not when I have nothing else to eat! But I am not an instinctive cook and I found this book liberating. Right after reading it I made some vegetable soup form a Jaime Oliver cookbook. I am not a huge fan of his, as I find much of his food bland, including the soup. Thanks to Adler, I felt confident in adding this and that, a rind of parmesan (she must buy just the rinds!), and of course lots of salt (clearly no high blood pressure in her family) and it was wonderful!!

    Then over the weekend I made vegetable stock with all the odds and ends I had from the vegetable soup-making. I’m feeling quire proud of myself.

    I read this book really fast so I could start it over again – don’t think I’ve ever done that before. I think in conjunction with my other cookbooks and recipes this one has given me the confidence one of the other commenters mentioned. I’m buying it for several people as gifts. (And I too laughed and read out loud several times.)

    • Jules says:

      I thought the same thing about the leeks! I never buy them, even when a recipe calls for them. All those layers, all that dirt. I had to laugh at the recipe for celery. She did uphold the promise to cook with economy with that one. I’m actually going to try it. I’ve never used celery as anything other than an aromatic or in ants on a log for the boys.

  8. I really loved this book. I got it from the library (inter-library loan, since mine did not have it) but it has been placed on my wish list for my birthday and Christmas. I cook exclusively from recipes but have always wanted to learn to cook like a Depression-era grandmother. Using scraps and turning leftovers into new dishes instead of just re-heating was a far-off goal until reading this book. I, too, had never thought of using the ends of onions for stock and it’s those little tidbits that stuck with me more than the recipes.

    I have not actually used any of the recipes since I had to return the book before I got a chance but I did write down the White Bolognese recipe to try soon. I enjoyed her writing and read a few passages to my husband because I love how other people creatively use words. I can see, however, how it’s not the style everyone would enjoy. And, Jules, I love your comment about the “long piece of string dangling so artfully from her cut off her shorts in the video.” That made me giggle and reflect that yes, it was indicative of intelligentsia writing.

    I remember thinking that this type of cooking and eating would be ideal for one or two persons but for my family of 6 would be questionable. The sheer volume of vegetables I’d have to purchase for everyone to have full tummies seems intimidating. There is nothing that says I can’t have a goal of cooking this way one night a week and using the end bits as lunch for myself as the week goes on, though. I have created a new board on Pinterest called “Cooking with Economy and Grace” so I can keep track of tips for this type of cooking. Thank you for the wonderful read and hosting this discussion, Jules!

  9. Shaina says:

    I’m still on the hold list for this book from my library but didn’t figure I’d be spoiling any plots by reading the discussion this time. I’m so glad to hear all the good feedback! I’m interested to see if I land in the dissenter camp with Ris or in the LOVED IT camp with everyone else.
    I rarely cook because my Sweetie enjoys it so much. However, on those nights when she’s tired or cranky and asks me to do it, I’m just at a loss! If I had a few days to find a recipe and shop for the ingredients, then I’m golden – but I am horrible and throwing things together at the last minute by just looking into the cabinets and/or fridge. I’m really hoping this book will help with that.

    Something I noticed about waste comments above though: I already use the bottoms of “root-intact” veggies (onions, celery, etc) to plant back into the garden (in growing season anyway). Some day we might use enough veggies through the week to make our own stock but currently it’s just frozen veggies unless we need it for a recipe.

    • You don’t need to use the trimmings when they’re “fresh”….put them in a Ziploc bag or freezer-safe container of some sort and freeze them until you have enough to make your stock!

      • Jules says:

        I had no idea. I always used fresh, too. That’s so good to know!

      • Shaina says:

        You beat me to it! I was discussing this with a friend today and she said the same thing – so I was coming back to mention that. I’m pretty sure I’ll never take the effort to make chicken stock from scratch but I am looking forward to making my own vegetable stock.

  10. Juliette says:

    I didn’t get around to this book, but I have to admit I was wondering if I wanted to considering food here overseas and how a lot of American food books/cookbooks just don’t work easily here in Germany. Still, from the sounds of it the ingredients she refers to sound pretty basic…or ?? I may have to grab this Stateside this summer!

  11. Theresa says:

    I’ve not yet finished the book. I pick up bits and pieces as my life allows, rather like the cooking method Adler promotes. What was surprising was the idea of boiling vegetables, particularly broccoli and cauliflower, two of my favorites. Because I had them on hand, I did it that night for dinner. Totally different taste to the vegetables and the color was stupendous – bright and appealing to both the eye and palate. Much of what Adler espouses I already do. Rare is the recipe that makes it to my dinner plate as written! That said, I appreciate the challenge of really seeing the ends as beginnings, the leftover roasted veggies from last night’s dinner that were the filling for my omelet lunch today. Thinking through HOW I will use all I am blessed to have is the challenge of my refrigerator.

    • Jules says:

      Yes! I forgot to write about that. I think my favorite chapter was the first one, How to Boil Water. When I had Nico, a friend made us dinner. She brought over the best tasting broccoli I have ever had, and I’m not normally a fan. When I asked her how she did it, she said she boiled the broccoli in water with lots of salt and butter. I blinked in shock.

  12. Kat from Canada says:

    I loved this book. Once I stop falling asleep on the couch at 8 pm, I will probably read it again.

    First of all, I love that it’s not a cookbook, per se. I have more than enough of those, and find them frustrating enough that I don’t need another one (but that is a rant for another day). This is the book that you pick up after you’re done with the cookbook, to see what to do next.

    This was one of those books where I only realized I had learned something once I had finished- now I have someplace to turn when I’m stuck with 2 roasting pans of vegetables that just didn’t turn out as tasty as I had hoped. This is a great book to help you cook something new every day, without necessarily having to start from scratch.

    I loved the emphasis on using fresh ingredients, and I love how she points out that some things just are not difficult to do yourself (making stock, for example). And I have to say, I never thought to dump old bread into soup as a thickener- genius!

    This book definitely has it’s quirks. You need to realize that you’re dealing with an author who is in love with food and cooking, so that is going to show up in her writing. If I was still in University, I probably would have turned parts of the book into a drinking game- “Every time she says “begging to be turned into Crostini”, EVERYBODY DRINK!!!”, but I guess there are only so many ways to say the same thing over the course of 200+ pages.

    And like it has been mentioned before, this makes me think of how my grandmothers and great-grandmothers most likely learned to cook- especially my Baba, who grew up in the Ukraine- use every little piece of everything you have, and then use it all again a second time.

    • Kate P. says:

      And if you get tired of the “begging to be turned into crostini,” version of the game you can change it up to “put an egg on it.” I never realized you could plop an egg down on so many different things! :)

      • Jules says:

        “A long drizzle of oil.”

        • Kirsten says:

          and more salt!

          there were several times I laughed out loud. Skipped the chapter on fish (at least the recipes) since no one besides me eats fish. I found it a refreshing and free-ing book on something that can so quickly become a drudgery “what? they want to eat again??”.

          • Jules says:

            I skipped the chapter on fish, too. I skimmed it. She lost me when she had a recipe for pretty old fish. No freaking thank you.

    • Jules says:

      Back to your comment, Kat, I’m with you. I loved that section in the back that gave you tips and ideas on what to do with things that didn’t work out. Making rice pudding out of overcooked, mushy rice? That is so obvious, and yet it has never, ever occurred to me.

  13. I enjoyed the book–I read a lot of food writing–though I read it in short spurts. I viewed it more as a collection of essays, better read in small doses. Plus, every time I read it I ended up hungry. I was fortunate to learn much of what I know about cooking from my parents, who have been avid cooks from way back. We also lived in Europe, so I was exposed to a wide variety of food. I appreciated the perspective that most everything can be transformed into another meal. I try to do some of that already, repurposing leftovers into another meal, but Adler is hardcore about using up every bit! When I get that many small containers in my fridge, things inevitably go bad if I don’t have a plan already in place. Though it gave me some ideas, especially for nights when my plan goes south. One night I found myself taking her advice and starting a pot of rice when I had no idea what to make for dinner, and in short order I dug out the makings of the rest of the meal from the pantry. I certainly have the skills (and always something in the house) to scrape out some kind of meal, but it truly saves me grief to plan most of our meals ahead. I can’t seem to multi-task homework, dinner and refereeing kid squabbles without making one into a more mindless task.

    • Jules says:

      I agree with you that I couldn’t keep so many little bottles in the fridge. I don’t think I would use them! I guess I wouldn’t use them because I am not yet a solid instinctive cook.

  14. Kendra says:

    I’m hanging my head in shame as I type. I had good intentions. I did.
    I got the book from the library. Picked it up. And it sat and sat and sat. I renewed and it sat. But as you say, the lure of fiction was too great. *sigh*
    I do have to admit though, my librarian laughed when I checked it out. She asked me today (when I finally returned it) how I enjoyed the book. I just handed it to her as she nodded and said “the Dr. Seuss books you requested will be in tomorrow.”
    LOL.

  15. HopefulLeigh says:

    I’m still on the library wait list but now I really can’t wait to read it. It sounds like it might just be a keeper so if I have to wait too much longer, I’ll probably spring for a copy of my own.

  16. I saw the author’s TED talk and found it to be sort of judgy? I’m not sure why, fundamentally I agreed with everything she was saying but I found something about it off-putting. Perhaps it was her presumption that cooking is really simple and easy. For me, it isn’t easy. I worked really hard to learn how to cook. All of this is to say that I started reading with a negative bias. I really enjoyed this book though! I was a fan of her language and as a person who often reads cookbooks for fun I enjoyed wading through the recipes and the prose. I think what I liked best were all the ideas for switching things up. I taught myself how to cook from cookbooks during my lean(budget-wise) college years and early 20s. With limited resources I was afraid of making unfixable mistakes and never learned to take chances with food so I feel like I’m lacking in the improvisational boldness that those who learn cooking from their parents have. This book gave me lots of great ideas, I felt like it was the kind of knowledge I would’ve gotten if I had learned at the side of an experienced cook instead of by googling things such as “How to cut up a tomato”. Since I read it I’ve been looking at my vegetables differently and feeling less intimidated by the idea of switching things up. I would recommend it to anyone who is into cooking.

  17. Andrea Howe says:

    Sadly I’m still finishing up the Book Thief (almost there!), so didn’t even attempt to partake in this month’s selection, but this book sounds intriguing and I may have to give it a try. I too love the idea of eating simply like your January picada dinner as almost decadent. Whenever my best friend Lea and I get together we eat like this at least once. She’s of Italian decent (1st generation born here) and she too rarely eats like that so we make it a point to when we’re together because we both love it so much.

  18. Jill says:

    The last comment on this thread was May 1, and here I am weighing in on May 27, after Jules so very kindly gave me a free book! May’s a difficult month to get reading in, but I LOVED this book! Yes, her language was overly flowery, and yes, my GOODNESS, when does she end the rest of the parmesan so that she has these rinds lying around? And yes, the string on her shorts in the video bothered me, and I don’t want to tell you how many times I watched the video on boiling water before I got the seawater/well salted allusion.

    However, the only angle that I have to add to this commentary is that I read this book while reading “French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters.” I was amazed at how they complimented each other. My children aren’t particularly picky and they’re in college and they love good eating, and yet I still found this book amazing – in tandem with An Everlasting Meal. Good food prepared simply is certainly the order of the day.

    I’m a good Southerner, and green beans are an art form I’ve never perfected. 30 seconds after watching the video and reading the “Boil Water” chapter, I boiled water, salted it, threw in some beans, got them too salty, adding in some elderly potatoes, and my husband pronounced them delicious – for the first time in 26 years. I think she’s on to something.

    Thanks for letting me come late to the party!

  19. Aingeal says:

    My summer book club will be reading An Everlasting meal in July. Do you have a source for discussion questions on this title, or can you suggest some? Thanks, I appreciate your input.

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Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.