Sunday, November 8, 2009


I’m usually reading two books at a time; one, fiction, for my monthly book group obligation, and two, nonfiction, for whatever political, social, or cultural tome makes my heart beat a bit faster.

A current nonfiction book of interest is entitled In Praise of Slowness, which ideally will help my heart beat a bit slower.

This is not a review of the book, though I do recommend it. Just don’t speed-read it. The slowness movement, catching on slowly in the United States, has a slow food component. Its website is

I have blogged earlier about my resistance to speed cooking, hyped by Food Network shows like Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals.

Now, even my favorite chef, Mark Bittman ( has a new book out entitled Kitchen Express, “404 inspired recipes you can make in 20 minutes or less.” No doubt Mark was feeling the pressure to feed the short-term America phenomenon because speed is not what he usually touts.

Today I found a quote from his blog that I wish I had seen in time to include in my book Guy’s Guide to Domestic Engineering, now available on both and This fits my kitchen philosophy to a tee. Question: “What would you say is the most important skill to develop in the kitchen?” Answer: “The ability to go in there and start. I am the least impressive cook you will ever see. I am completely without knife skills. I screw things up all of the time. When I’m in the kitchen I’m not obsessively trying to create the perfect dish; I’m trying to put dinner on the table. Comparing yourself to the people who cook on television is like comparing yourself to Andre Agassi. If you can drive you can cook.”

Mark is being too modest; he cooks on television regularly on The Today Show. That is how I first noted him. Even though his cooking segments are only a few minutes he always exudes a casual, calm, “I don’t take myself too seriously” style.

Cooking is like most skills acquired in life; if you don’t begin, you will probably suck at it. And the goal is to put something edible on the table in time to still be called dinner, in a casual, calm style.

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