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Cooking

  • ... cookbooks, I found, are intended for people with time to cook — and, surprisingly often, for people who already know how to cook.

  • It is possible to ruin a chicken in the cooking of it, but not easily. Short of burning it or letting it get dried out, you can hardly go wrong.

  • Almost anything can be stretched to serve more people by being added to a white sauce or canned gravy or undiluted or very slightly diluted canned soup and served over noodles or rice. With chops or chocolate eclairs, however, the only solution is to claim you don't like them.

  • Piecrust is like a wild animal; when it sees fear in the eyes of its tamer it goes out of control.

  • The Southerners are the only cooks in the United States. The real difference between the South and the North is that one enjoys itself getting dyspepsia and the other does not.

  • ... a potato is a poor thing, poorly treated. More often than not it is cooked in so unthinking and ignorant a manner as to make one feel that it has never before been encountered in the kitchen ...

  • A complete lack of caution is perhaps one of the true signs of a real gourmet ...

  • ... cooks must feed their egos as well as their customers ...

    • M.F.K. Fisher,
    • in Norah K. Barr, Marsha Moran, Patrick Moran, eds., M.F.K. Fisher: A Life in Letters ()
  • She was more than a merely good cook; she was an alchemist in food stuffs.

  • Japanese food is very pretty and undoubtedly a suitable cuisine in Japan, which is largely populated by people of below average size. Hostesses hell-bent on serving such food to occidentals would be well advised to supplement it with something more substantial and to keep in mind that almost everybody likes french fries.

  • While it is undeniably true that people love a surprise, it is equally true that they are seldom pleased to suddenly and without warning happen upon a series of prunes in what they took to be a normal loin of pork.

  • People have been cooking and eating for thousands of years, so if you are the very first to have thought of adding fresh lime juice to scalloped potatoes try to understand that there must be a reason for this.

  • ... an omelet so light we had to lay our knives across it and even then it struggled.

  • I have always felt cookbooks were fiction and the most beautiful words in the English language were 'room service.'

  • ... the Crown [Hotel] did not so much cook as assassinate food.

  • No one who cooks cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.

  • Remember, you are all alone in the kitchen and no one can see you.

  • Cooking may be a creative art, but it's also a wonderful full-time hobby.

  • ... the more experience you have, the more interesting cooking is because you know what can happen to the food. In the beginning you can look at a chicken and it doesn't mean much, but once you have done some cooking you can see in that chicken a parade of things you will be able to create.

  • The problem for cookery-bookery writers like me is to understand the extent of our readers' experience. I hope have solved that riddle in my books by simply telling everything. The experienced cook will know to skip through the verbiage, but the explanations will be there for those who still need them.

  • I don't use the word gourmet. The word doesn't mean anything anymore. 'Gourmet' makes it sound like someone is putting sherry wine in the corn-flake casserole.

  • A cookbook is only as good as its worst recipe.

    • Julia Child,
    • in Regina Schrambling, "Julia Child, the French Chef for a Jell-O Nation, Dies at 91," The New York Times ()
  • Certainly one of the important requirements for learning how to cook is that you also learn how to eat.

  • There's no end to imagination in the kitchen.

    • Julia Child,
    • in Lynn Gilbert and Gaylen Moore, eds., Particular Passions ()
  • In department stores, so much kitchen equipment is bought indiscriminately by people who just come in for men's underwear.

    • Julia Child,
    • in James Beasley Simpson, ed., Simpson's Contemporary Quotations ()
  • It's hard to imagine a civilization without onions; in one form or another their flavor blends into almost everything in the meal except the desert.

  • The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.

    • Julia Child,
    • in Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme, My Life in France ()
  • I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and think, Well, that's not going to happen.

  • How come when you mix water and flour you get glue? And then you add eggs and sugar and you get cake. Where does the glue go?

  • My mother was the worst cook ever. In school, when we traded lunches, I had to throw in an article of clothing.

  • Men like to barbecue. Men will cook if danger is involved.

  • I have never cared very deeply about the actual taste of my work. Let its essential odor satisfy my mind and senses, and I am content. I rarely judge by the grosser test of actual gustation ... in cooking, to create a masterpiece for the nose alone — that is exquisite, that is Art!

  • To cook, and to do it well, every talent must be used; the strength of a prize-fighter, the imagination of a poet, the brain of an empire builder, the patience of Job, the eye and the touch of an artist, and, to turn your mistakes into edible assets, the cleverness of a politician.

  • Once learnt, this business of cooking was to prove an ever growing burden. It scarcely bears thinking about, the time and labor that man and womankind have devoted to the preparation of dishes that are to melt and vanish in a moment like smoke or a dream, like a shadow, and as a post that hastes by, and the air closes behind them, and afterwards no sign where they went is to be found.

  • Another sad comestive truth is that the best foods are the products of infinite and wearying trouble. The trouble need not be taken by the consumer, but someone, ever since the Fall, has had to take it.

  • I don't even butter my bread. I consider that cooking.

  • 'Who in hell,' I said to myself, 'wants to try to make pies like Mother makes, when it's so much simpler to let Mother make 'em in the first place?'

  • No nation has ever produced great art that has not made a high art of cookery, because art appeals primarily to the senses.

    • Willa Cather,
    • speech (1921), in L. Brent Bohlke, ed., Willa Cather in Person ()
  • ... I abhor all kinds of shams and deceitfulness. ... Though once in a while when I have particuler company, and my cookin' turns out bad, I kinder turn the conversation on to the sufferin's of our four fathers in the Revolution, how they eat their kat ridge boxes and shoe leather. It don't do us no hurt to remember their sufferin's, and after talkin' about eatin' shoe leather most any kind of cake seems tender.

  • ... cooking is the most succulent of human pleasures.

  • I like food, I like stripping vegetables of their skins, I like to have a slim young parsnip under my knife.

  • Not that hunger does a cook justice. 'I do not like people that are hungry,' says Ude; 'hungry people eat any thing: I would have my dishes create, of themselves, an appetite; I do not wish them to be wanted till they are tasted, and then to eat is a compliment.'

  • Food imaginatively and lovingly prepared, and eaten in good company, warms the being with something more than the mere intake of calories. I cannot conceive of cooking for friends or family, under reasonable conditions, as being a chore.

  • The best fish in the world are of course those one catches oneself.

  • Two elements enter into successful and happy gatherings at table. The food, whether simple or elaborate, must be carefully prepared; willingly prepared; imaginatively prepared. And the guests — friends, family or strangers — must be conscious of their welcome.

  • The French use cooking as a means of self-expression, and this meal perfectly represented the personality of a cook who had spent the morning resting her unwashed chin on the edge of a tureen, pondering whether she should end her life immediately by plunging her head into her abominable soup ...

    • Rebecca West,
    • "Increase and Multiply," Ending in Earnest ()
  • Lunch was not good. ... There was trout beside which I felt young and innocent; veal the condition of which was inexplicable unless it had spent its lifetime competing in six-day bicycle races; the spinach was a dark offense. Apart from the culinary malpractices, there was that in the restaurant which gave me a temporary dislike for life.

    • Rebecca West,
    • "Increase and Multiply," Ending in Earnest ()
  • Let us put a stop right now to that dreadful practice of serving half-peeled shrimp. Miss Manners has encountered these pink tricks a few times too many lately ... There the sly creatures all are, snoozing cozily on beds of shredded lettuce, or perhaps getting their exercise by hanging from their tails on the edge of miniature bird baths filled with cocktail sauce. ... Miss Manners can think of no motivation on the cook's part except pure meanness.

  • Cooking like everything else in France is logic and fashion.

  • You know why you cook? Because / you like control. A person who cooks is a person who likes / to create debt.

  • What is sauce for the goose may be sauce for the gander but is not necessarily sauce for the chicken, the duck, the turkey or the guinea hen.

  • ... It was at this time, then [during the Occupation], that murder in the kitchen began. The first victim was a lively carp brought to the kitchen in a covered basket from which nothing could escape. ... I carefully, deliberately found the base of its vertebral column and plunged the knife in. I let go my grasp and looked to see what had happened. Horror of horrors. The carp was dead, killed, assassinated, murdered in the first, second and third degree. Limp, I fell into a chair, with my hands still unwashed reached for a cigarette, lighted it and waited for the police to come and take me into custody.

  • These [recipes] are very nice ways to cook string beans but they interfere with the poor vegetable's leading a life of its own.

  • I prefer Hostess fruit pies to pop-up toaster tarts because they don't require so much cooking.

  • Cooking is both simpler and more necessary than we imagine. It has in recent years come to seem a complication to juggle against other complications, instead of what it can be — a clear path through them.

  • When we cook things, we transform them. And any small acts of transformation are among the most human things we do. ... we feel, when we exert tiny bits of our human preference in the universe, more alive.

  • All ingredients need salt. The noodle or tender spring pea would be narcissistic to imagine it already contained within its cell walls all the perfection it would ever need. We seem, too, to fear that we are failures at being tender and springy if we need to be seasoned. It's not so: it doesn't reflect badly on pea or person that either needs help to be most itself.

  • Children must help shell peas. In a world of things too big, getting peas from pods is a chance for pea-sized people to exercise authority.

  • Little flourishes, like parsley, make food seem cared for.

  • I recommend buying a bunch of parsley whenever you can. Then, once you have it, act as children do when handed hammers and suddenly everything needs pounding.

  • One of the best pairings in condiment history is of pickle and egg. The aggression of the pickle and self-possession of the egg are a perfect match.

  • Don't ever admit you know a thing about cooking or it'll be used against you ...

  • Cooking can be like foreplay.

  • My mother was a good recreational cook, but what she basically believed about cooking is that if you worked hard and prospered, someone else would do it for you.

  • What I love about cooking is that after a hard day, there is something comforting about the fact that if you melt butter and add flour and then hot stock, it will get thick!

  • ... I've become captivated by the alchemy of creating my own cheese and butter. (Butter is a sport; cheese is an art.)

  • Cooking isn't hard, she says. It's like painting or writing a poem.

  • Cooking is revolution and creation ...

  • It is a fundamental fact that no cook, however creative and capable, can produce a dish of a quality any higher than that of its raw ingredients.

  • ... she was a natural-born cook. ... people gnawed their fingers and bit their tongues just to smell the steam when she lifted the pot lids.

  • Artur has his piano. I play my sonatas on the stove.

  • As long ago as yesterday and as near as tomorrow, bread and soup still sustain and comfort us. Here are our primary nutrients contained in golden loaves. ... And soup is a simmering secret of vitamins and minerals ready to nourish us and send us forth.

  • Judging by the vast amount of cookbooks printed and sold in the United States one would think the American woman a fanatical cook. She isn't.

  • Neither knowledge nor diligence can create a great chef. Of what use is conscientiousness as a substitute for inspiration?

  • ... men don't mind cooking per se, as long as they don't have to use a cookbook. Cookbooks are for sissies. And the books are always ordering you to 'puree this' or 'saute that.' A man looks at that and says, 'Oh, yeah? Who's gonna make me?'

  • First, catch your hare.

  • The best thing about preparing peppers is that you can cut them into the shapes or initials of people who get on your nerves, douse them with red pepper, and more or less set them on fire. What could be better?

  • Jim joked that I must have thought he was a god because I put so many burnt offerings in front of him.

  • ... cooking and food puts me in community with others.

  • I wonder, now and then, if the prevalence of divorce has any connection to the decline of home cooking?

  • This is a truism of child-raising, of course — whatever you give special time and attention to cooking, your children will despise and reject, with annoying gagging sounds.

  • Vague in plot but clear in style, / Its characters escape me. / Flavor marks it all the while, / And how it's helped to shape me!

  • I need to smell its smells, to hear its sounds, to see food in a pot that simmers, bubbles, sizzles. I enjoy the physical involvement of stirring, turning, poking, mashing, scraping.

  • [On cooking:] What you keep out is as significant as what you put in.

  • I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation.

  • If you're interested in cooking, you're also just naturally interested in art, in love and in culture.

  • A chef without an ego is like a soufflé without air. It will never rise to the occasion.

  • Tea seems to tenderize cheap cuts of beef. After cooking chuck, boiling beef and brisket (I even mixed rib eye, which is ever so cheap, and it's great) I have decided that the tannic acid in the tea is what tenderizes beef!

  • Salt represents the civilized: it requires know-how to get it, and a sophisticated combination of cooking and spoilt, jaded appetites to need it.

  • Everything tastes better outdoors.

  • See, there's this cook, this real country cook, and pot roast is the least of what she does. There's also pan-fried potatoes, black-eyed peas, beaten biscuits genuinely beat on a stump with the back of an ax.

  • Sponge cakes ... are perhaps the most temperamental and sensitive of all cakes. ... in the days when eggs were beaten with a fork or a bunch of birch twigs, you did not lightly undertake to bake a sponge cake. Recipes would carry the instruction, 'beat eggs for three hours.'

  • ... cakes are highly responsive to the mood of their makers. If you are in a hurry or a fluster, if you do not really want to be making a cake, the cake will know it and behave accordingly. ... Cakes are so sensitive that they lapse immediately into sadness if lack of confidence in their progress is shown. They must be allowed to cook as slowly as they like. ... Every cake should be a planned cake ...

  • [On fruitcake:] Even impatient people should not cut the first slice until six weeks have passed.

  • [On fruitcake:] One last test is to lift it from the oven and listen to it, placing your ear to its side. If you can hear it singing away to itself inside, it is not cooked.

  • I don't cook. I respect food too much.

  • What cook can match herself against hunger and memory?

  • Cooking may be as much a means of self-expression as any of the arts.

  • The science of cookery is the science of civilization; and considering the effect which the material, raw or cooked, has upon the digestion, and the digestion on the brain, it is a science of quite as much importance, as any other in the great scale of utility and consideration.

  • Condiments are like old friends — highly thought of, but often taken for granted.

  • The grotesque prudishness and archness with which garlic is treated in [England] has led to the superstition that rubbing the bowl with it before putting the salad in gives sufficient flavor. It rather depends whether you are going to eat the bowl or the salad.

  • In cooking, as in all worthwhile pursuits, fearlessness is of the essence and instinct is everything.

    • Beverly Lowry,
    • in Dean Faulkner Wells, ed., The New Great American Writers Cookbook ()
  • Bread-making is an occupation very conducive, I find, to reflective contemplation. Bread is so fundamental, and there is such satisfaction in kneading and shaping the responsive sponge, and in taking the finished loaves, brown and comely and sweet-smelling, from the oven.

  • It was not just that she couldn't cook, it was much, much more. There was between her and any fresh, frozen or tinned ingredient a sort of malign chemistry. They were born antagonists. He had observed her once making a tart. She didn't just weigh and handle materials, she squared up to them appearing to have some terrible foreknowledge that only an instant and combative readiness could bend them to her will. Her hand had closed over the shrinking pastry ball with a grip of iron.

  • To the old saying that man built the house but woman made of it a 'home' might be added the modern supplement that woman accepted cooking as a chore but man has made of it a recreation.

  • ... the test of a cook is how she boils an egg. My boiled eggs are fantastic, fabulous. Sometimes as hard as a 100 carat diamond, or again soft as a feather bed, or running like a cooling stream, they can also burst like fireworks from their shells and take on the look and rubbery texture of a baby octopus. Never a dull egg, with me.

    • Nancy Mitford,
    • 1963, in Charlotte Mosley, ed., The Letters of Nancy Mitford ()
  • The influence of cookery on domestic happiness must be evident to all those who have had experience of the toils and troubles of married life.

  • If a recipe cannot be written on the face of a 3 by 5 card, off with its head.

  • She has got on to the right side of the baking powder, and her cakes and things are so light they fly down your throat of themselves.

    • Susan Hale,
    • letter (1907), in Caroline P. Atkinson, ed., Letters of Susan Hale ()
  • Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.

  • My mother, bless her heart, says I find housework beneath me, which is not true ... I find it beyond me.

  • I'm not a very good cook either. I went to Kramer vs. Kramer four times just to learn how to make French toast. My favorite ways of consuming food are, in descending order: dining out, take-out, having something delivered, boiling in a bag, and, if desperate, opening a can. This last choice is worst since it involves doing dishes later in the month.

  • Cooking is mythology — a story told over and over, passed on again and again, always with the same meaning but expressed in endlessly different ways.

  • Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.

  • Cooking should never be frantic or angry or rushed because the most important ingredient is the spirit.

  • The person who decides what shall be the food and drink of a family, and the modes of its preparation, is the one who decides, to a greater or less extent, what shall be the health of that family.

  • 'May your rice never burn,' is the New Year's greeting of the Chinese. 'May it never be gummy,' is ours.

  • Dried peas and beans, being rather on the dull side, much like dull people respond readily to the right contacts.

  • Nothing stimulates the practiced cook's imagination like an egg.

  • 'Correct the seasoning' — how that time-tested direction stimulates the born cook!

  • The soufflé is considered the prima donna of the culinary world. The timbale is her more even-tempered relative. On closer acquaintance, both become quite tractable and are great glamorizers for leftover foods.

  • Yes, as a people we are spoiled. We look for dinners that take two minutes to cook in our microwave instead of five, and we audibly sigh if the directions on the box require us to stir at the halfway point. Aw, I gotta stir? See what else is in the freezer.

  • Think about good things when preparing meals. It is much more than physical nourishment. The way the cook (or cooks) think and feel become a part of the meal. Food that is prepared with careful thought, contentment, and good memories tastes so good and nurtures the mind and spirit, as well as the body.

  • Noncooks think it's silly to invest two hours' work in two minutes' enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, well, so is the ballet.

  • Nothing renews my interest in cooking like a whole shelf of fresh herbs.

  • No cook can ignore the opinion of a man who asks for three helpings. One is politeness, two is hunger, but three is a true and cherished compliment.

  • This is my favorite recipe: 'Go get some perfectly ripe figs in August, put them on a plate, and eat them.'

  • ... food is about more than cooking; it's about geography, history, agriculture, tradition, art, anthropology — and nature, of course.

  • Gamma was an aggressively terrible cook. She resented recipes. She was openly hostile toward spices. Like a feral cat, she instinctively bristled against any domestication.

  • Cooking is one of the great gifts you can give to those you love. It says 'you’re important enough to me to spend the time and effort to cook for you.'

  • Hands are a cook's best utensils.