Right after I graduated from college, I worked at an educational publishing company for a year. At 23, I only knew what I didn’t want to be and what I didn’t want to do. Other than that, I was fuzzy about the specifics. A friend who I met at work gave me the book Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin – and not only did it make me a life-long Colwin fan, but it also gave me a strong sense of the aesthetic direction that I wanted my life to take . . . if not an actual career goal. I already liked to cook, and I already liked to read cookbooks, but this food memoir/cookbook gave me a strong sense of how I feel about food, which in 20 years really hasn’t changed much.
In the foreward of her book, Colwin writes this: One of the delights of life is eating with friends; second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends.
Colwin’s writing has a confiding, friendly quality to it unmatched by any other writer that I can think of. For me, this book – and the follow-up, More Home Cooking – are the ultimate comfort reading. Laurie Colwin is a gingerbread and beef stew sort of person, and so am I. She is also the sort of cookery writer who would title a chapter: Repulsive Dinners: A Memoir. (You’re not going to get that sort of humor in a Martha Stewart cookbook, now are you?) It isn’t for the Heston Blumenthal types out there; it’s for people who want to make delicious, simple food for their friends and family. It’s for people who do most of their socializing from the kitchen.