Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking American
Patrick O'Connell's Refined American Cuisine : The Inn at Little Washington
Published: September 22, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
The great chef Patrick O'Connell went to college to please his parents. "They bought into the American dream, believing that their children should never have to toil, sweat, or perform physical labor," he writes in his
extraordinary new cookbook (after The Inn at Little Washington: A Consuming Passion). Like many people of their generation, O'Connell's parents considered working in a restaurant to be a lower order of work that people resorted to if they couldn't get a
higher education. But O'Connell, who taught himself to cook by reading cookbooks, became part of the revolution in American cuisine over the 25 years that changed that perception. Eventually (with his partner Reinhardt Lynch), O'Connell turned a former
gas station in the Virginia countryside into one of the most sumptuous and original restaurants and inns in the world. There, happily sweating and toiling, he set about refining many of the dishes of his all-American Irish Catholic childhood: fish sticks
on Friday night became Sole Fingers with Green Herb Mayonnaise.The recipes collected here, which O'Connell explains with warmth and simplicity and introduces with wonderfully funny memories from his baby boomer childhood, demonstrate that the greatest
American cooking is more than a version of regional cuisine. Like Alice Waters and other pioneers in the American culinary revolution, O'Connell is obsessive about using fresh local meats and produce. But he adds another ingredientandmdash;a twist of
insight and witty invention. O'Connell gives us Lilliputian Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwiches; Macaroni and Cheese with Virginia Country Ham (and smoked gouda) and Spruced Up Turkey (which garnishes a brined turkey with spruce branches to impart a
wild and woodsy taste). He shows that true refinement has to do with simplicity, with being exquisitely sensitive yet free enough from convention to perceive and to make just the right gesture. Arriving at a time when there is so much fear that European
cultivation and ethnic depth is being wiped out by American brand name sameness, this cookbook is a jewelandmdash;and a watershed. O'Connell shows the world how deep and cultivated American cuisine can be. 230 photos.
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Patrick O'Connell, owner and chef of the award-winning Inn at Little Washington, defines a new way of American cooking - homegrown in the United States,
approachable for the home cook, yet as delicious and refined as the finest French and Italian cuisine.
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