The Quotable Cook offers a barrage of citations culled from all corners of the globe, past and present, some profound, others that spawned chuckles, both from me and my sleepy eyed husband when I regaled him with a particularly juicy entry.
The table of contents is arranged by the way one might plan a dinner party. Beginning with the invitation, proceeding thought the guest list, the menu and finishing with mealtime conversation. Outwardly, these categories work well but in reading, understandably, one senses that the author often found it difficult to fit a quote into a prescribed category.
After a second and third perusing of the book, I came to realize, as a person interested in cooking and its history, I was left hanging, hungry for what seemed basic information. And, although undoubtedly this book was never intended to be a reference tome, I do think for the professional writer or chef, there were times when the paucity of background was frustrating. The citation for each quotation, for instance, is only the name of the author. While a bon mot from Winston Churchill may need little more explanation, a quick description of a lesser known author, with his time and place in history would give the reader a proper setting in which to better understand the quotation and give authenticity to the quote.
For example, one of the most often heard references cited in the book, "Kissing don't last: cookery do," attributed to George Meredith, was one of those delightful contributions. Knowing him as a mid-19th century English poet, an early advocate of the intellectual equality of women, and a novelist who firmly believed in the beneficial power of laughter would have put meat on the bones of the quotation.
As a food writer who often looks for pithy food quotes to insert into articles, I found the index of the book frustrating. Only the names of the authors are recorded a subject index would have been very helpful. The Quotable Cook at $20 is an ideal book to snuggle up with in bed or to peruse by the fire on a cold winter's night to have a chuckle or two but not a necessity for a cook's library.