Today Amazon brought me a package. In it were two books: one on programming and the other one is a cookbook. And what a cookbook it is. It is thick, and of coffee table format. The first 50(!) pages are filled with essays about food, cooking and the Alinea restaurant, and then follow another 350 pages with recipes, ordered by season.
It is self-made and self-published by the folks of the Alinea restaurant in Chicago. They couldn’t find a publisher so they did the publishing themselves. The chef wrote the text himself, the designer who designed the restaurant, their website and their house-style, designed the book, even though he never had designed a book before. His sister/wife/partner (I couldn’t find what their relationship is, but they share the same last name) made the photographs, even though she was also an amateur at that. But they took almost two year to make this book and during that time they sure got the hang of it. The dishes are real food, made during the daily prep in the restaurant, and not in a pantry kitchen in a food photographer’s studio with fake ingredients that just look good and don’t wilt. After just browsing in it for an hour or so I almost want to book a ticket to Chicago. I’m salivating.
The recipes all look quite simple, often requiring just between 4 and 10 ingredients. O wait, that’s is just one part of the dish. A dish often contains 4 parts but the recipes for those parts can be prepared ahead, all recipes end with phrases like “Store in airtight container”. The final part of the recipe contains instructions how to assemble and serve them as beautifully as in the restaurant. O boy do they look gorgeous.
I’m not a real foodie, I’m too poor to dine in expensive restaurants and too lazy to make elaborate recipes just for the two of us. I do cook (and like doing it) when we have friends over but that usually eats away (no pun intended) a whole weekend, including tidying up the house. We should do it more often, however.
Festive meals like Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving are mostly spent with Alison’s family and the food is traditional turkey dinner (with nut-loaf for us pescatarians). But maybe I’m going to break that tradition soon.
And now for the best part: the book only cost me 35 dollars. I pre-ordered it a month ago on Amazon and received it today. But strangely enough the book is still marked as ‘not yet published’ so you might still be able to pre-order it for this amazing low price. (I feel like I’m on the shopping channel now: “But there is more…”)
The normal price in bookstores is $56. Even at that price it is a steal for an impressive book weighing just shy of three kilos.
Order Alinea at Amazon.com
O, and please also take a look at the Alinea book website for more pictures.