Charlie Trotter

Discussion in 'Cookbook Reviews' started by jim berman, Dec 22, 2001.

  1. jim berman

    jim berman

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    This Cantankerous Cook has a problem. I am trying to determine if I appreciate the wonderful spectrum of exotic ingredients, labor-intensive technique and business savvy that goes in to each and every Charlie Trotter effort. Or... there is always an or... if his cooking is so narrowly suited to the taste of one person that the ecclectic items are too 'over the top'.
    I fully understand and appreciate his sense of balance, not only within the dish, but from course to course. It really is a gift to balance so well. However, is $50 an investment you are willing to make in a somebody's culinary diary rather than a cook book, in the sense of what we all accept as a cook book? If so, how do you explain any of the dishes? Again, I understand his expression and his art, but... ne'er I ask, is it cooking? Skip the philosophy on composing edible items defines it as cooking. I mean is it cooking?
    Please don't beat me up for asking!
     
  2. kimmie

    kimmie

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    Hello Cantankerous one!

    You must admit that Charlie T. is full of invention; his recipes are definitely for those who love the pure act of cooking. Nothing is ever difficult—there are just a lot of steps, some of which you may ready hours or even a day in advance.

    My time in the kitchen is limited at best and my trick to «tame him» is to breakdown his recipes!

    That being said, I just perused over his latest on meat and game; the pics are amazing; some recipes are fairly simple (as far as it goes with Trotter), some are moderately difficult and some, of course, are ridiculously complex. Another nice coffee table book!

    And to complete my point, and yours, here's an excerpt from amazon.com: «Most readers will want the book for armchair fantasizing rather than cooking from; the recipes almost uniformly require hard-to-find or costly ingredients (sometimes both) and painstaking preparations. But Meat & Game presents Trotter at his most imaginative; anyone interested in refined and magnificently conceived American cooking will treasure the book.»


    Happy cooking :chef:
     
  3. jim berman

    jim berman

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    I agree. I also concur with the summary from Amazon, in that his books (with the exception of Trotter Cooks at Home) are for "armchair fantasizing". I certainly appreciate his technical savvy as well the use of the exotic ingredients. Just curious what others thought. Thanks, Kimmie! -Jim
     
  4. kimmie

    kimmie

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    You're welcome Jim. The only Charlie T. book I play with is "Kitchen Sessions"!!

    The desserts are truly wonderful, especially his

    - Chocolate-Ginger Truffle Tart with Pear-Caramel Sauce; and
    - Pineapple-Polenta upside-down Cake with Mango and Caramel Lime ice Cream

    :D
     
  5. w.debord

    w.debord

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    I'm in your camp Jim. He might be a fun read but personally I don't bond with his style. I can't really address his cooking books seeing how I haven't given them any attention. But I have perused his Dessert book and find it too impractical to consider it as a purchase.

    First, he doesn't bake, he combines. He approaches baking as a chef not a pastry chef. Which is fine, a new perspective....but his substance is lacking for my tastes (it's like a amatuer abstractionist, it lacks the refinement and excitement of a skilled artist). I don't find his work challenging in sophistcation as much as taxing on ingredients. His thoughts that each bite must be a new flavor is like a person with a.d.d. bouncing from thought to thought.
    Personally when I read a baking book by Herme, Bellouet or Roux (many others too) you can see the genious flowing from their pages. Many chefs are capable of throwing the kitchen sink into their recipes too. His overly showie flaunt of exoctic produce might impress the beginner but anyone who's been around the block once or twice sees this as a poor attempt to dazzle. Sometimes I think his approach by using unfindable produce (that hinges on perfectly sun rippened fruit) is his way of making sure no one can actually repeat his work, then they might discover it lacks substance.

    If you look up the meaning of genius he meets the defination. Unforunately it eludes me at this time. His abstractionist tendences are too scattered, even though that might be his intent.... I personally would prefer to see him refine his approach.