Before it is anything, How to Cook Everything is an act of generosity: this could have been a series of books, but author, Mark Bittman has given everything to us in one volume. Justifiably, when the original was first published in 1988 How to Cook Everything became the cooking bible of a new generation. The revered and popular Mark Bittman is also a New York Times columnist. With a philosophy of cooking that espouses unadulterated simplicity, he calls himself 'The Minimalist.' Though his recipes are simple and pared of the extraneous, there is nothing minimal in this encyclopedic work. It is the perfect reference book, a friendly teacher and guide, as well as a book so crammed with recipes that a lifetime may be needed to try them all.
Deciding to update the wildly popular original, the peripatetic Mr. Bittman amassed 500 new recipes (many global), paid heed to the current health concerns, tastes in food,, the new ingredients available on supermarket shelves, then set about reorganizing the work. The recipes -many of the originals revised- remain true to his philosophy and there are many more step-by-step illustrations. As a teacher and writer, he is clear and succinct, a reflection of his philosophy of simplicity, but he has organized differently and added a few new elements. Most of the changes are to help the reader find what they want more easily. Among them you will find:
Chapter at A Glance - With jam-packed chapters, this gives a table of contents within each recipe category.
Essential Recipes - These recipes are the building blocks which Bittman says are super-easy and/or super popular.
Charts - The book is laced with charts that give ways of combining, thus varying, dishes.
Variations - the number of variations for a dish are staggering. If the main recipe doesn't a0ppeal to your personal taste, one of the variations will.
Lists and sidebars - These build on the recipes, combining ingredients and flavors
Lexicons - Bittman calls this "ingredients-in-a-nutshell, sometimes as charts, sometimes in text.
Icons - Icons easily guide you to fast recipes, make-ahead, vegetarian, and essential.
This guides the reader in the use of this book which is so complete, so aware of the stumbling blocks that await the cook, that it is the perfect reference work as well as a cookbook that leaves no recipe unturned.
Bittman states his philosophy of simplicity clearly,and argues that good home cooking can be quick and less expensive that ordering food to go or purchased frozen products that head to a microwave. The recipes cover every aspect of cooking, every ethnic group. If you can have only one book on the shelf this is the one.