Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Feast of a Book

A Feast Made For Laughter- Craig Claiborne 

I had heard the name over the years but had been unfamiliar with his work. I was certainly I aware of the lasting influence of Claiborne.

The book it's self is a very open and honest account of the man's life. Certainly it was an interesting one. Originally from the deep south Claiborne served in the navy during two conflicts. WWII and Korea. He then attended hotel/culinary school in Switzerland. After a series of jobs he landed at the New York Times. Eventually he wound up heading the food section and transforming it to what it is today. This is at times an intense story. He does go into some deeply personal details about his life growing up in Mississippi. 

Claibrone's story takes up about half the book. The rest of the volume he has divided into two parts. The second of these is a collection of his one-hundred favorite recipes. These run a gamut (but do seem to be a little dated in some cases) from the basics for crepes and English custard to Le Cirque's spaghetti Primavera as well as Mrs. Reardys Shrimp and Artichoke Casserole. But it is the First list that is the most interesting. This is a listing of one hundred-plus 'must' haves for one gastronomic library. Granted there dose not seem to be a opportunity missed to included the works of himself or his friends(but hey why not it is after all included in his book.). It is certainly interesting to see where things stood in to mid 1970's. Especially of note is the international section. Claiborne was a proponent of what was then considered 'exotic' and which we today simply call  Hungarian and Spanish etc. Claiborne was a great proponent of broadening peoples horizons.

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