A review of "The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection (Modern Library Paperbacks)" — 6 years ago
This is a FANTASTIC book. I found it hiding in a corner of the Torgie’s basement, and pulled it out for something to read, and maybe to look for some recipes.
This is not really a cookbook. Well, it is, but in the same way that…well, maybe the Bible is a manual for priests? That’s probably not going too over the top: the author spends the entire first chapter discussing cutting onions, and the true nature of onion-ness down to the cellular and spiritual level.
Turns out the author has been an Episcopal parish priest and written a ton of other books.
So, the guiding principle of this book is Lamb for Eight People, Four Times.
One of the main themes is festal vs. ferial (which is a fancy way of saying festive vs. non-festive) eating. How festal eating is usually characterized by rich people dining on unadorned meat cooked in its “pure” form, and ferial eating is characterized by poor people “stretching” meat in the forms of gravy, stews, casseroles, etc.
In talking about Lamb for Eight People, Four Times, it is explained how to take such meat and enjoy it for four full meals, prepared in such a way that eight people are satisfied each time.
The writing of this book is superb. Any true foodie or chef will enjoy phrases like “always use stock or liquor rather than water unless physically prevented from doing so”. There are many such gems. To good effect: I recently took this to heart after using sherry in the making of some beef chili that turned out delicious.
So, the principles of cooking and of entertaining are covered. Directions for men and women and their approach to cooking. How to have a dinner party, and how 8 people is the magic number.
The last third of the book even has some very good recipes, extending from mere mentions in the first part.
Highly recommended. Anyone that reads their cookbooks like a novel will enjoying reading this novel and see it transform into a cookbook.