So the Post has finally published a collection of recipes from the 57 years the Food section has been running. How did they choose from among the thousands it has published over the years? The editors asked the readers for their favorites, then they added a selection of “four-and five-star rated dishes” from their archive. The result is a somewhat uneven but endearingly idiosyncratic set of dishes.
They range from “Misery Meatloaf”(the ultimate comfort food, from a cookbook inspired by the sitcom Friends) to “Gastronomer Roast Chicken and Potatoes” (by Andreas Viestad by way of famous chef Thomas Keller). In between lie recipes contributed by readers, adapted from embassy chefs, graciously bestowed by First Ladies, even derived from the Internet. They are all attributed with a little story of their origin, and described with a level of care and attention to detail as to tempt a beginning cook into undertaking something new.
I found the “Ginger Spiced Chickpeas” to be a little tamer than I have eaten in ethnic restaurants, but delicious, and very easy to make. (And of course if you like it a little spicier, it’s easy to add pepper.) I also tried the method for making “Chocolate Grapes” but used pitted fresh cherries – it worked beautifully.
I do have a problem with this book, and it’s one that seems so simple that it’s puzzling: there is no nutrition information included for any of the recipes. This despite the fact that the Post Food section has included this data for years, for as many of the recipes as they can calculate it. And! Both Phyllis Richman in her Foreword and Bonnie Benwick in her Introduction to this book mentioned this feature proudly! Well, where is it, guys?
There is plenty of white space on most pages, so page real estate can’t be the reason. Indeed, the layout is exemplary, with lovely food photography and only one recipe that I could spot needing a page-flip for the instructions (and that was a fiddly one for “Goat Butter Biscuits”).
It’s good to have a collection from the Post in a permanent format. I hope it’s the first of many more.
Bonnie S. Benwick, ed., The Washington Post Cookbook, The Washington Post, Time Capsule Press, 2013.