The PBS television series, The Frugal Gourmet, ran from 1983 to 1995. After going off the air, Jeff captured his recipes in a number of cookbooks. In my opinion, this is one of the better ones. I love Jeff Smith’s writing style and the thoughtful, heart-felt details he shares with the readers about his own experiences with different recipes and the people surrounding them. He shows us that great old traditional recipes from around the world can be made simply in today’s busy world. The intro is wonderful to read and read again. There are also great section on kitchen hints, equipment, cooking methods and terms, ingredients, and such. The illustrations are wonderful even though they don’t really portray the actual recipes. This book is about family history, culture, and keeping those fabulous cooking traditions alive for future generations. Hence, “Recipes You Should Have Gotten from Your Grandmother” is the perfect theme.
This book was most interesting to me as a history of how America’s diet evolved as a result of the influence of poor (mostly European) immigrants to America. Over and over, things that were eaten because they were cheapest (lamb, lobster) later became delicacies unaffordable to the people who introduced them. It’s got some great stories and anecdotes. Smith introduces a lot of new ideas and flavors to your repertoire without forcing you to hunt out rare ingredients.
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