The Art of Simple Food Book Summary - The Art of Simple Food Book explained in key points
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The Art of Simple Food summary

Alice Waters

Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution

3.8 (34 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters is a cookbook that emphasizes using fresh, seasonal ingredients to create simple yet delicious meals. It offers recipes and tips that encourage a love for cooking and an appreciation for the natural flavors of food.

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    The Art of Simple Food
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    Vinaigrette: the foundation sauce

    Learning how to build a great sauce, like a vinaigrette or an aioli, will accomplish two things. First, you’ll develop tasting, chopping, and flavor-balancing skills that will carry over to cooking other, more complicated preparations. And second, you’ll always have a sauce on hand that will make everything else more delicious. A well-balanced sauce instantly turns a simple plate of meat, vegetables, or salad greens into a finished dish.

    Vinaigrette is the sauce Alice makes most often. Not only does it transform the dishes she serves at the table, but she’s found that most kids love it, too. When her daughter was growing up, Alice would prepare a vinaigrette and pack it into her school lunch box with some cut vegetables. 

    Alice always recommends buying the freshest seasonal ingredients you can find. Nowhere will mediocre ingredients be easier to detect than in a vinaigrette, which, in its simplest form, has only four components. Start with fruity, delicious olive oil and a wine vinegar with lots of character. Black pepper should be ground immediately before using. And finally, good quality sea salt, she says, is one of the simplest things you can buy to make your food taste better. Learning to salt properly is probably the biggest secret to good cooking.

    To make a great vinaigrette, first you should understand the theory behind the mixture. A vinaigrette is one part vinegar to three or four parts oil. For four servings of salad, you should need about a quarter cup of vinaigrette. 

    Start by measuring one tablespoon red wine vinegar into a bowl. Then dissolve a pinch of salt in the vinegar, and taste. When the salt and vinegar are balanced, the combination should taste neither acidic nor salty, but deliciously in harmony. Add salt little by little, and figure out what tastes best to you.

    When the combination is just right, grind in some black pepper and whisk in three or four tablespoons of olive oil. Keep tasting as you go, and stop when it tastes right to you.

    Once you’ve mastered a basic red wine vinaigrette, you can start to make it your own. Add a little chopped shallot or puréed garlic to the vinegar. Or use lemon juice instead of red wine vinegar. You could also add some mustard before adding the oil, or some chopped fresh herbs at the end.

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    What is The Art of Simple Food about?

    The Art of Simple Food (2007) is much more than just a cookbook – it’s also a resource for how to think about food, eating, cooking, and entertaining. Renowned chef and restaurateur Alice Waters starts from the very beginning: excellent ingredients. She then teaches skills and recipes layer by layer, in the same way she builds flavor in a dish. 

    The Art of Simple Food Review

    The Art of Simple Food (2007) by Alice Waters is an insightful book that teaches us how to embrace the joy of cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a practical approach to cooking that focuses on simplicity, teaching readers how to create delicious meals with minimal fuss.
    • With its emphasis on using local, organic produce and supporting sustainable agriculture, the book inspires us to think more consciously about our food choices.
    • The book is filled with delicious recipes and helpful cooking techniques, making it an invaluable resource for both beginners and seasoned cooks.

    Who should read The Art of Simple Food?

    • Anyone curious about “California cuisine”
    • Those who don’t want to fuss with fancy recipes
    • People looking for calm, soothing cooking energy

    About the Author

    Alice Waters opened her signature restaurant, Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, California in 1971 – effectively kicking off the California food renaissance. California cuisine is known for super-fresh, locally sourced ingredients, which are then cooked simply to accentuate their inherent flavor and quality. Waters has written dozens of cookbooks and was the first woman to win the James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef. 

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    The Art of Simple Food FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Art of Simple Food?

    The main message of The Art of Simple Food is to embrace simplicity in cooking and prioritize fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

    How long does it take to read The Art of Simple Food?

    The reading time for The Art of Simple Food varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Art of Simple Food a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Art of Simple Food is a must-read for food lovers. It offers practical guidance on cooking techniques and celebrates the joy of cooking with fresh ingredients.

    Who is the author of The Art of Simple Food?

    The author of The Art of Simple Food is Alice Waters.

    What to read after The Art of Simple Food?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Art of Simple Food, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Retrain Your Brain by Seth J. Gillihan
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    • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    • The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill
    • Don't Believe Everything You Think by Joseph Nguyen
    • Licence to be Bad by Jonathan Aldred
    • The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz