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Six Questions with Alice Waters

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We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else.

Today: We find out where Alice Waters stands when it comes to unsung vegetables, Thanksgiving traditions, and cake vs. pie.

Alice Waters on Food52

Of course, Alice Waters needs little introduction. For decades she has taught cooks and chefs and diners the value of fresh, local produce. She founded The Edible Schoolyard, which fights for school gardens and improved school lunch programs. And one of her many books, The Art of Simple Food, is one tenth of Food52's list of Essential Cookbooks. According to her, it was conceived as the Joy of Cooking for a new generation: Those who valued whole foods, and sought simple techniques to celebrate their flavors. Now, there is a second.

In true Waters fashion, The Art of Simple Food II is straightforward, vegetable-forward, and elegant. It is organized by plant family, and includes an entire section on "Planting Wherever You Are," plus a glossary of food-labeling terms. Read on to learn more about what Alice will be doing for Thanksgiving, which vegetables she thinks deserve a little more love, and how she feels about the whole cake vs. pie debate.

More: Get Alice's recipe for Colorful Carrots with Butter and Honey.

Alice Waters' Colorful Carrots with Butter and Honey

What was the process of gathering these recipes like?
The process was a collaboration with the cooks and farmers of Chez Panisse. They certainly aren't all my recipes, they are the ones we thought were different from other books I've done and that really used the produce from a little kitchen garden. 

What are your Thanksgiving traditions? What will you be cooking this year?
Thanksgiving is special for me, and it has always been. I celebrate with friends, not family, and we all bring something to the table. I usually do a turkey or two so that I can give some away. Now our children are bringing their friends, so it is getting rather large indeed. We take a walk between the main course and dessert to see the sunset, and then we eat pumpkin pie and apple pie. This year I'll be coming off an intense book tour, so I am hoping my friends might let me off and I'll bring the wine.  

Pumpkin Pie on Food52  Apple Pie on Food52

What do you think is the most effective way to inspire people to cook at home?
Just do one dish over and over until you get it right -- that will help you build confidence. I started with salad.    

Is there a vegetable you consider totally under-appreciated? Over-appreciated?
Turnips are still underappreciated for sure. So are jerusalem artichokes. And over-appreciated? I can't really say that I think we've overdosed on any vegetables just yet. 

Sunchokes on Food52  Turnips on Food52

Can you describe the Edible Schoolyard's Delicious Revolution in five words or less?
Coming back to our senses.

And finally: Cake or pie?
Absolutely pie. No way cake. (Sorry my dear Kim.)

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: Books, Interviews