Well, Kimmie, far be it from me to question the experts at the NYT, but you know me, I'm gonna anyway.
In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that Deborah Madison will be my guest here in a couple of weeks, so I suppose I have a slight bias. However, that being said...
The article's author, Regina Schrambling, all but accuses Ms. Madison of being an elitist, simply because Ms. Madison voices her opinion. Ms Schrambling writes "The yogurt has to be goat's milk, the zucchini the Zephyr variety, the basil opal or Thai." What is elitist about recommending something that tastes great? 'Twould appear to me that Ms. Madison is trying to broaden some palettes - more power to her.
Ms Schrambling continues: "Her recipes are either so simple they barely qualify as recipes (simmer squash, toast pine nuts, combine on platter with Parmesan and basil) or so laborious you might want to order in a pizza while you work (for corn and chanterelle chowder, first make a vegetable stock)." Heaven forfend anyone might be encouraged to actually make their own stock! And in a book about farmers markets, no less!
Next annoying quotation referred to Ms Madisons trips "to Madison, Wis., to San Francisco, to Calgary, to Alabama and, of course, to Union Square in Manhattan." Yes, of course to Manhattan . Ugh. Please excuse my provincial Naiveté, but that kind of east coast snobbery is why we're glad out here that folks like Ms. Schrambling refer to us as a flyover state. And this from the woman who accuses Ms Madison, repeatedly, of being "elitist."
Now as for her analysis of the recipes and how well they work, the ones that I have worked with have presented me with no difficulty at all. The only one we (Ms. Schrambling and I) have in common is Salsa Verde with Basil, Cilantro and Mint, about which she says "A salsa verde of cilantro, basil and parsley involved stemming, washing, drying, chopping, blending and then dejection at the blandness." First of all, the book says "mint," not "parsley". Secondly, well, here's the recipe:
1 Jalepeno, seeded
1 large bunch cilantro, stems removed
1/2 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup MINT leaves
2 small garlic cloves
1/2 cup + 2 T olive oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
"1. Chop the first 5 ingredients very finely, then stir in 1/4 c. water, the oil, the lime zest and juice.
2. Taste for salt and adjust the balance of lime juice to oil, if needed. Or, pulse the chile, garlic and herbs, then gradually add the water, oil, and lime zest and juice to taste."
If Ms. Schrambling got "dejection at the blandness" out of this, regardless of her use of parsley for the mint, I question either the quality of her ingredients or her ability with a knife, or both.
Really, though, what bothers me the most is her suggestion that advocating high quality ingredients is elitist. What would be the point of a book like this if it did not advocate for some of the ingredients that perhaps you would NOT find at the local WalMart Super Center?
Not only that, but the few pleasant things she does have to say about the book are buried 2/3 of the way down the page.
Please, I beg you, judge for yourself. I realize I speak from a bit of a bias here, but the book really is worth your time.