gael greene: insatiable

When I choose books, I go through these steps: first, the cover grabs my attention with its artwork – vibrant, colorful, interesting? drab, dark, morbid? I then check out the title and the author – heard, or never heard?

Next I turn to the back for the blurb. If the synopsis there (written, I am sure, by savvy marketing people who know that the blurb is the quickest and best way to grab the consumer and not let go) tweaks my curiosity even to the slightest degree, I then flip through the pages. The language must jump out, awaken my senses, make me reel in the headiness of the words, the prolixity of thought and verbiage coming together like a potent drug. If the book has this effect on me, then I get it.

Insatiable is one such book, penned by the famous food writer of New York magazine. Gael Greene is witty, intelligent, an unabashed hedonist who enjoys the pleasures of the table with the same sensuality that she explores the pleasures of the bedroom. It is honest and alive with detail; Gael holds nothing back in describing her lovers, her meals, her friends, the delights of the senses that encompass her world and make up her life story.

Be sure to read this book on a full stomach, as the exquisite description of French and Italian cuisine will make you hungry and want to go on your own gastronomic adventures in our food-obsessed Manila.

Excerpts:

“We are going to have a nice salade composeé,” said Julia (Child) in that rolling profundo that promised if she could cook it, you could, too… I must admit I was disappointed. Disappointed? Shocked. What did I expect? Nothing complicated. A lovely cold pork roast. A deviled chicken. I was not demanding a suckling pig turning on a spit or a laborious ballontine requiring birds be boned and gelatin gelled… To be with Julia… it should have been enough. What an ingrate I am to have expected lukewarm loup de mer with a sauce gribiche. Forever the Insatiable Critic. (p. 241)

I remember thinking, Okay, show me. And to my astonishment, she (chef Alice Waters) did. There was something radically daring in the simplicity of every perfect vegetable, the pristine leaves of baby greens that had not yet hit kitchens in New York, the clarity of an oddly shaped tomato. Until that moment, heirloom meant a hideous vase you dare not send to the thrift shop because it had been your grandmother’s. If there were zealots reviving forgotten spieces of tomato or twenty strains of heirloom potatoes on the East Coast, I was not yet aware of it. (p. 172)

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