Spain Remembers

Spain Remembers

Friday, May 3, 2013

Book of the Week - Cooking with Gwyneth Paltrow's "It's All Good."

Some time ago, my book club suggested that, for the next meeting, everyone bring their favourite cook book.  I brought along a few spattered and tattered kitchen collections but the others toted in large picture books, hefty tomes many of them, devoted  to such topics as Chinese cuisine, Russian cookery, world wide desserts and so on.  One friend confessed she never actually cooked from these books, (many nods from around the circle) but as another friend stated," they are great bed time reading." (more nods)

Recently I bought such a book, "It's All Good" by Gwyneth Paltrow." The book tops the New York Times best seller list.  I had checked out her first cook book, "Her Father's Daughter", from the local library and tried out a couple of recipes, the lamb tagine and breakfast cookies, and liked the results.

Paltrow has turned herself into a brand. Whose picture is on the front cover?  Whose on the back? Who has photos scattered all through the book, looking wholesome and fetching? And whose children are those gathering vegetables in an artisanal basket or nibbling a bacon strip, also looking wholesome and fetching?  Every photo is chosen to suggest the healthy and the wholesome: the beach, the picnic table, the straw hat and farm girl shorts.  The book does have a co-author, Julia Turshen, who is mentioned in smaller print on the front cover.
Paltrow has a narrative to go with her latest cook book. After the first book, she became run down, stressed out and quite ill but subsequent visits to her doctor started a cure with an "elimination diet," which forbade coffee, dairy, gluten, potatoes and lots and lots of other stuff. A further diet guru, Dr. Habib Sadeghi, of the Be Hive of Healing Centre for Integrative Medicine, writes a forward where he says food is spiritual and feeds the soul. And so on.

It is easy to make fun of Paltrow and, since the cookbook came out, many have. Cynical posters note that many  ingredients such as gluten free flour, Vegenaise (a type of mayonnaise), Spectrum organic shortening, agave nectar, tapioca starch, canned hominy and preserved lemons are not found in the average pantry. Maybe not in the average city. "What," asks one twitterer, "is sprouted tofu?"  Good question. The high cost of many of these recipes has also been noted. At my local health food store, the Vegenaise rings in at 13$ for a medium sized jar.

My chief complaint concerns Paltrow's  repeated assertions that her children loved various  recipes. Her kids even love kale. What can I say? They must grow children differently in California.

Have I tried any of the recipes? The lamb tagine recipe from the first book is repeated here.  I have made it twice. I also made the butter cookies which uses almond butter, another 10$ product.   The cookies needed much more time to cook than stated but tasted all right, like very dense peanut butter cookies. But as Gwen says" all the satisfaction of cookies with no guilt." I image she doesn't share my guilt  over the 10 $ for the almond butter.

I will probably try a few more recipes. Next up is the posole. What is it? I have no idea but the picture is wonderful.

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