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Tamar Adler

  • 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.

  • A gently but sincerely cooked egg tells us all we need to know about divinity. It hinges not on the question of how the egg began, but how the egg will end. A good egg, cooked deliberately, gives us a glimpse of the greater forces at play.

  • ... an egg can turn anything into a meal and is never so pleased as when it is allowed to.

  • The degrading of mayonnaise from a wonderful condiment for cooked vegetables or sandwiches to an indistinguishable layer of fat has been radical and violent.

  • 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.

  • What is more enticing and confounding than an artichoke? I am among the class of human who is powerless against my love for them.

  • 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.

  • Beans have always been associated if not with poverty, with the sweating classes. ... Our beans are rarely as good as they can be. They're usually so bad, in fact, that basing an opinion of their merit on prior experience is very much like deciding you don't like Bach after having heard the Goldberg Variations played on a kazoo.

  • Anchovies divide us into lovers and fighters. No one is neutral. The little fish elicit wistful gazes from their adorers — if you love them you wonder when you will get your next one — and shudders from objectors, far more numerous, who can't fathom the injustice of ever having to see one of the nasty things again.

  • I challenge anyone to find me a situation a good olive can't fix.

  • There are plenty of good olives around. They can be buttery, or tart, if that is how you like them, but they should never taste crabby or mean.

  • Capers are as odd and wild as birds. They are the original nipped buds, picked from their scraggly bushes early in the morning, on their way to becoming tiny, petaled flowers, just before they're won over by the sun and convinced to bloom. I believe I can taste the power of their foiled entry to the hot day each time I eat one.

  • 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.

Tamar Adler, U.S. cook, writer