The Piglet2017 / Final Round, 2017

Taste & Technique vs. My Two Souths

Taste & Technique

Naomi Pomeroy & Jamie Feldmar

Get the Book

My Two Souths

Asha Gomez

Get the Book

Judged by: Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner

A68cbdbd 5324 4b33 a058 623d0b948dae  lena jenni sweaters 2

Lena Dunham is the creator and star of the critically acclaimed HBO series “Girls,” for which she also serves as executive producer, writer, and director. She has been nominated for eight Emmy Awards and has won two Golden Globes, including Best Actress for her work on Girls. In 2010, she won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay for her feature “Tiny Furniture,” which she also starred in and directed. In 2013, Dunham made history as the first female to win a DGA award in the Best TV Comedy Director category. Dunham’s book of personal essays, Not That Kind of Girl, was published by Random House in September 2014 and was a #1 New York Times best-seller. She is also a frequent contributor to The New Yorker.

Jenni Konner is a writer, director, and executive producer of “Girls.” She began her career as a writer on Judd Apatow's celebrated television series, "Undeclared." In 2014, she and Lena Dunham co-founded A Casual Romance Productions. She and Lena are also the co-founders of Lenny Letter, a feminist newsletter which features original editorial content focusing on politics, art and culture, style, health and wellness, and sex and relationships.

The Judgment

A funny thing happens when you share with your friends and family that you are part of a cookbook competition: They all start to tell the truth. In my first attempt at a recipe from Taste & Technique—an easy one I might add, the mushroom quiche— the reviews came in quickly, and honestly, they were not raves. Usually when my family sees me cooking a meal for over two hours, (too long for a quiche, but I’ll get back to that), they compliment me. The food is unquestionably delicious and I’ve done it once again, they’ll say—I’ve brought home the proverbial bacon and fried it up in a pan. Not so when when a competition is in the works. The first reviews came from my father, who was visiting from New York: “I’ve had better, but mushrooms aren’t my favorite.” Okay, if this is what honesty looks like, I can’t say I’m a fan. The next review came from Sam Sifton—oh no, wait, it was my twelve year old daughter. “I really preferred the quiche Lorraine you used to make.” But honey, you’re a vegetarian now—you wouldn’t even eat that. “Still, this isn’t as good.” Well, the first recipe taught me two things: Bacon makes things better, and vegetarians are kind of assholes.

When Lena and I agreed to take on this job—and really, to call it a job is sad, as I was literally so flattered I almost died and then I sent in a photo of my cookbook shelf as a CV that literally no one asked for—we had a deal. The deal is, I cook, Lena eats.

You might know a few things about Lena, like that she’s a hugely talented writer, actor, and director. You might know she’s a godmother. But here is one thing she can’t do: Cook. I mean, she can barely make toast. I actually think she can’t make toast—I was being generous. But she is the most delightful eater. So I promised to take on the cooking duties and she promised to answer the ten online questionnaires for Girls Press. A job, by the way, she can do in her sleep and I can dread for months.

She kept relatively quiet on the quiche. This is a sure sign there was a problem. If Lena is not pretending my food is good, who will? The answer is no one. And the worst part is that I loathed making this quiche. For me, quiche is a pantry food, whipped up at the last minute with only the chilling of the dough to slow you down. For Taste & Technique, there are ten steps where there should be five. You want me to squeeze out the mushrooms after I’ve chopped and sautéed them in butter? I did it because this was my job, but honestly, if it made a difference, the critics of the Hollywood Hills could not tell. 

 

The Taste & Technique rib eye was another story. All of the guests, including Ms. Dunham, said it was some of the best steak they had ever eaten. The fried shallots were delicious and I would put them on anything. I would probably put them on ice cream—they were that good. The technique itself for the steak, as the book promises, is very successful; I’ve never cooked such a perfect steak. That said, Pomeroy and her co-writer Jamie Feldmar ask us to brown the steak, take it out of the pan, let the pan cool, wash and dry said pan completely, and then brown another steak. And she doesn’t outline why, exactly, I need to get rid of the old steak’s pan drippings. I’m just not that person. Even for the best steak I’d ever made.

I moved on to My Two Souths. The title and book are a combo of Asha Gomez’s upbringing in the South of India, and Atlanta, the second South, where she now lives with her family. The pages are filled with cozy stories of her childhood as well as her current life in Atlanta. The recipes are simple and straightforward. (The hardest thing you will have to do is source a few ingredients from a cool Indian store.) Gomez’s rice and chicken is as casual a dish as you can throw together, yet the novel spices (star anise, turmeric) bring it to the next level. It was reminiscent of the recipe for cardamom chicken in Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem (a fav on my cookbook shelf)—chicken and rice taken to a new place, in one pot no less. I was thrilled. And the home critics loved it too. Lena said it smelled and tasted like the parts of India she loved visiting, and my ten year old ate a full two servings. My boyfriend actually saved some for leftovers—and you should know this is coming from a man who throws away Chinese food before it’s even cold.

 

Gomez’s beef stew takes everything you already know (beef stew is standard, almost no-recipe cooking) and it does two simple things: It adds turmeric and ginger, and then it asks that you stir in coconut milk at the end. That's kind of it—which is gloriously liberating in that you could go off-script if you want to, and, better, it gives you tricks to take with you and apply to other things. I basically learned to cook by reading recipes for beef stew in different cookbooks and learning the common elements. This one is a perfect beef stew base with an Indian flair. 

But I have a gripe: The baby onions in the beef stew’s photo are seared—their flat side is all gorgeously charred, which, the way the recipe is written, is physically impossible. You are supposed to take a raw onion and dump it into a hot soup. According to science, you can't get that char you see, and that is a food styling thing I really don't like: Cookbook photos already look better than my food will, but there is no reason to go on making them seem even more unattainable. Plus, my stew’s color was a lot murkier than the photo's. But I ate it all anyway. 

The thing is, the premise of Taste & Technique is to make restaurant quality food at home. And honestly, for restaurant food I want to go to a restaurant. The gorgeous duck confit on the cover is tempting, all glazed and stunning and all you’d want to eat. Reader: It takes 3 days! I just couldn’t do it. I know people who would. I bet my dear friends and world class home cooks Gary and David would make it. And trust me, I would eat it. And I will as soon as they invite me over. 

But the simple, delicious recipes of My Two Souths—oh, how my kids loved the crepes—beckon. I want to jump into the photos with the the author and her son shopping at the farmers market and I want to join their dinner party afterwards. Really, really good food and realistic to pull off is what I look for in a cookbook—that’s how I know I’ll use it again. That’s what My Two Souths offers. 

And as far as Taste & Technique, I really do get it: It’s brilliantly researched and written, beautifully photographed, and does exactly what it says it will do. It elevates your home cooking to restaurant quality. And that is right for so many. But in this case, Taste & Technique, it’s not you. It’s me.

And the winner is…

My Two Souths

My Two Souths

Get the Book

Do you Agree? (134 comments)

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
16587ee2 49ab 4852 890d efd7ffba48e9  2016 03 23 22 01 52

2 days ago Teresa @ onewetfoot.ca

There is a strong lobby for a more serious cookbook competition in place of this one, but I love the freewheeling format of the Piglet. I see it as a place for creativity and the construction of a good argument to support the reviewer's choice. For me, the disappointing reviews are the ones that give short shrift to one (or both) of the books, make weak arguments that come across as serving a pre-judgement, or don't seem to embrace the spirit of the competition. That said, it's all part of the game. I don't follow the Piglet to find out which cookbook is the best of the year - there are other competitions for that. I come here to discover cookbooks I might have overlooked, to enjoy agreeing and disagreeing with the judges and commenters, and above all, to relish the terrific writing that emerges each year.

For this review, I was disappointed that only one of the two promised judges was present in the review. I felt the same way last year, when Ayelet Waldman and Michale Chabon were co-judges. If there are co-judges in the future, I'd love to see a dialogue between them, or instead, let capable writers like Jenni Konner and Ayelet Waldman stand on their own.

Cb038322 efa1 4767 bca9 7ce6c6737371  stringio

2 days ago klclark

totally agree.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

2 days ago chardrucks

Thank you for GETTING IT and stating it so eloquently, Teresa. We created the Piglet for all the reasons you said and for people like you.

With much appreciation,

Charlotte Druckman (Piglet Co-Founder)

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

1 day ago Victoria Carr

Teresa, I agree with you completely. The freewheeling format is what keeps The Piglet fun, and, if you think about it, keeps it workable. Imagine how difficult putting this together must be. We want to keep it fun for readers and reviewers not make it an onerous task that reviewers will be reluctant to do. Also, I'm with you on feeling that it isn't a tournament to choose the best book of the year; it's a place to expose FOOD52ers to all the best books of the year. They start out as the winners!

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

3 days ago Gabrielle Gautreaux

This review made me angry. Perhaps My Two Souths is a better book. I don't know because I don't have it although I will check it out as I have read and heard good things about it. But I have been cooking out of Taste & Technique, and it certainly got an unfair review here. Someone who basically objects to the premise of the book shouldn't be judging it--especially in the last round. (By the way, the duck confit is amazing and not that difficult.)
Again, no axe to grind about the books, but this whole Piglet thing and unqualified judges who are more interested in sounding disinterested has gotten tiresome. It's hard to take this competition very seriously.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

3 days ago Gabrielle Gautreaux

This review made me angry. Perhaps My Two Souths is a better book. I don't know because I don't have it although I will check it out as I have read and heard good things about it. But I have been cooking out of Taste & Technique, and it certainly got an unfair review here. Someone who basically objects to the premise of the book shouldn't be judging it--especially in the last round. (By the way, the duck confit is amazing and not that difficult.)
Again, no axe to grind about the books, but this whole Piglet thing and unqualified judges who are more interested in sounding disinterested has gotten tiresome. It's hard to take this competition very seriously.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

4 days ago Daniel

so, the other book won just because you are lazy and you don't want to do restaurant quality food at home? that is a shame

C8ae2bf3 38a8 4869 ae1a ae77b281452e  222329 10150184369463198 2535350 n

4 days ago greg thow

Even though Lena can't cook.. the one thing she CAN do is WRITE. And write great! That's whats so weird about this review.. why not have Lena write it up? Doesn't make any sense and is def. my least favorite of all Piglet reviews perhaps ever. I will buy that book though.

C017c5c2 83b4 4edd b57e 4a4e56bde784  sut500

5 days ago sufitt

I wish the Piglet reviews were more objective. It's kind of turning me off this tournament forever.

E0cc9d5c 6544 49fb b0e4 5c150d9ac0f7  imag0055

5 days ago mainecook61

The Piglet has become (or maybe it always was) a cookbook reality show. Or maybe a cookbook wrestling match. Reality shows rely on spectacle, keep the viewer/reader hanging, and are about as substantive as a bag of Cheetos. Now that we have a reality show host at the highest level of government, let's give the cookbook judging back to the little people, that is, the accomplished home cooks who actually buy the books.

E4c30812 7a4a 41b9 8ad6 735d55b3292f  fb avatar

5 days ago Shem Aronofsky

mainecook61 - Often I read in comments that Piglet is for the average inexperienced home cook and that's why they picked judges of the like. However, I agree with you. I tend to buy two cookbooks a month and do my best to give each one a fair shake. They all teach me something and make me a better home cook. I get trying to appeal to those who might not be buying cookbooks in the first place but I also feel the judging of a cook book should be two-fold. I would love to see a review of the book from a home cook who knows their way around their kitchen (and whether or not they have cream of tartar on hand…) as well as a review buy someone who's never cook that type of food before. They really should appeal to both their audiences. Once both judging are in on the same book then their review is posted and the community votes on it and thats how a book advances in the brackets… Well, thats my opinion anyways…

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

5 days ago Anne Taylor Davis

Agree completely with Antonia James. Piglet reviews are amusing but I take them with a huge grain of Maldon salt

B3038408 42c1 4c18 b002 8441bee13ed3  new years kitchen hlc only

5 days ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I've suggested this several times, and been met with radio silence, but I'll try one more time. There should be a shadow tournament, pairing the books the same way but using judges who are Food52 members who are experienced home cooks willing to commit to testing and reporting on at least 5 and preferably 6 or 7 recipes from each book. If it's too much work for the Food52 staff, I'll organize it!

And if that just doesn't fly, how about this? Set up a page for each book in the contest, where the only comments allowed would be reports from Food52 members who have cooked recipes from the book, and substantive follow up questions relating to those comments. Anyone who had cooked from a book could go through and talk about what worked and what didn't, what they loved and what they didn't, and why, etc.

I find that the most helpful and constructive comments on the Piglet are those from the community members here who have actually cooked from the books. Wouldn't it be handy to have those comments all in one place?

Please, consider this. Not only would it provide a way to share more cook-to-cook insights into the recipes, but it would also make up for the slackers, and too busy and/or less experienced cooks selected as judges.
Many thanks. ;o)

E9c30ec1 f8e5 47f5 90bf 5f1c6b65ea77  dv headshot

5 days ago Dana V

(Hi AntoniaJames!) Count me in for next year :) Also, this isn't exactly what you're asking for but there's a Food52 Cookbook Club on FB where members (over 5K!) cook from a cookbook each month and post their results, sometimes with photos. April is going to be Diana Henry's Simple.

E0cc9d5c 6544 49fb b0e4 5c150d9ac0f7  imag0055

5 days ago mainecook61

Antonia James, I couldn't agree more! I'd look forward to reading a review you wrote.

E4c30812 7a4a 41b9 8ad6 735d55b3292f  fb avatar

5 days ago Shem Aronofsky

Antonia James - I have to say for me to cook 6-7 recipes out of a single book might take far too long to be timely but I love the idea of having a Food52 page per book of each tournament so that the community can comment on a individual book, work with that book and share what they have learned. It just so happened that I had Taste of Persia before Piglet began but hadn't had a chance to cook from it until after it got knocked out of the competition. The review and many of the comments were harsh about the recipes. I made the Tart Lamb Stew with Fried Potatoes and Basic Persian Rice and loved it. There were some things I learned from it that would have been great to share. I did a write up in my blog https://aronofskycreations... and already have another recipe planned. Loved your ideas!

38d74236 bb50 4fe8 90bd 438575cec343  vermont creamery pic

4 days ago Asha Loupy

Well said, Antonia James!

566c9e61 0705 44b8 b433 318abf9afcfe  stringio

4 days ago Rick

But let's say you're being asked to review a book. Cooking 5 recipes that, in your judgement, represent the breadth of the book would be a bit more than 1 per week if you had a month. IF you had just 2 weeks, it's only 5 of 14 meals (less if some of the recipes are side dishes, desserts, etc).

So, as long as the F52 folks can give reviewers reasonable amounts of time to do the review, ~5 recipes doesn't seem like a big ask. IF someone doesn't want to do that, can't because they have other commitments during that time, etc, they should pass.

283aaeb7 c91c 4441 9375 ea3c70af8566  125tomato14

4 days ago BerryBaby

BerryBaby is trusted source on General Cooking

I so agree! Have those that would actually USE and ENJOY the cookbooks judge them. Every time I see a 'celebrity' as a judge on a cooking show, I ask myself "Why?" They offer nothing except their opinion and have no culinary knowledge of food or preparation. I would like to add that having PROFESSIONAL chefs, who know what goes into writing a cookbook and testing the recipes, would make more sense in judging these wonderful books. They know about the processes, they know all the work and science behind the recipes and can offer a more professional point-of-view. Two panels for judging: one professional chefs and the other members of this community, who would give an honest assessment of the books. JMO BB

B3038408 42c1 4c18 b002 8441bee13ed3  new years kitchen hlc only

3 days ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I've been thinking about a structure for Food52 members' testing that would take it off road, so to speak, making it more like non-basketball and football sports tournaments, where a contestant gets more than one chance to advance.

To that end, three people would judge each round and the book with the majority would advance. That would also allow testing of a minimum of 3 or 4 recipes by each. We, the home cooks who use cookbooks, would get a lot of information (all three reviewers' comments would be provided, with word /sentence limits and a template format to ensure plenty of useful insights. (In fact, one of the questions to be answered for each book would be, "Would you recommend this book to someone who doesn't have much experience? If not the whole book, any particular recipes (and which ones)?"

I'm sure we'd have more than enough volunteers. I offer this, respectfully, as a way to satisfy the hunger expressed by readers of the Piglet in so many rounds for more useful information about each book's recipes, provided by people like us . . . . ;o)

B3038408 42c1 4c18 b002 8441bee13ed3  new years kitchen hlc only

3 days ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks for the link, Shem. What a great blog! I really enjoyed your review of "Taste of Persia" - quite helpful, indeed. ;o)

E4c30812 7a4a 41b9 8ad6 735d55b3292f  fb avatar

3 days ago Shem Aronofsky

Your welcome Antonia, Thanks for checking it out. I think what's fascinating with a book like Taste of Persia is that many of the recipes recommend the addition of the "Herb Plate". I am not a huge fan of cilantro but the Tart Lamb Stew with Fried Potatoes needed something to brighten it up and not be so heavy. Cilantro did just that. I enjoyed it so much in fact that each night as we ate it I kept adding more and more. I was shocked by the end of the week just how much cilantro I was putting on this dish. I learned that I do like cilantro in the right context (something I am learning about most foods) and that had I not added the herbs as recommended I would have been very disappointed with the dish. All that said when I read the review in Piglet and they said the recipes were bland I now question if they put all the different parts together or just tried a recipe alone without any of the recommended accompaniments.

I also have to say that as I cook with a cookbook I always tweak the recipe to how I cook and what I like. A cookbook is a guide for me. So in that same stew the second night I reheated the stew on the stove and added a ton more water to get it to a stew like consistency so it wasn't so thick and loved it! I know some people need to follow a recipe exactly but when judging a cookbook I would have to look at another aspect. I would look at can I get something delicious out of this recipe if I tweak it. I wouldn't have known how to make a Persian dish without her book. I may not follow her recipe exactly but she, along with her recipe got me there so for that I love her book…

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

5 days ago marmar

There's so much I love about Food52, and following the Piglet is an opportunity to learn about some of the best cookbooks out in the big wide world. But, I have to say--maybe it's because I'm utterly uncool and unhip-- I don't see why the I-can't be-bothered reviewers are acceptable. What is the time and energy required to produce a cookbook? Then we hand it off to be judged by someone who cooks 2 recipes out of it? If they can't be bothered, why are they here? I thought the review of Fuschia Dunlop's book was pretty insulting and the argument that 'we gave two books to someone who didn't like either one" left me confused but I said nothing. I'm just bothered by the unseriousness (laziness?) here and the sneaking suspicion that if I don't get the inside joke, it's on me.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

5 days ago Brian Gray

Who knew so many cooks lack a sense of humor? My esteem for the wonderful Jenni Konner continues to rise. Great Piglet this year!

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

5 days ago chaja

I love the Piglet. I am on board with the selection of reviewers from far afield. I loved Freddie Prinz Jr.'s review this time around, and I do think that home cooks who are not professionals are perfect judges for the Piglet. This is what food52 is about after all! I'd rather wait a couple of extra days for each review than read reviews that only involve 1-2 dishes cooked. Especially in the semi-finals or finals. Is it that much to ask to cook a bit more? If I were a judge I wouldn't feel comfortable judging from such starting point. What if I messed up, what if my oven is wonky, I wouldn't want the review to be based on coincidentally bad dishes. So, why not ask for 3-5 dishes per book? Is it that hard to find reviewers? If so, I do think having a mix of well-known people and food52 contributors as judges would work quite well. In any case, I will keep on reading the piglet. This is one of the few places where I DO read the comments and enjoy it! Thanks for your great work.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

5 days ago Victoria Carr

The only reason I’m not surprised at which book ended up at the top of The Piglet is because of which books have won past Piglets. Unlike Witloof, I didn’t hate that Fancy Desserts topped My Paris Kitchen in 2015 because it introduced me to the excellent writing of Brooks Headley without diminishing how fine and useful a book My Paris Kitchen is. In fact, My Paris Kitchen lives on the shelf of books in my kitchen reserved for my very favorites. Whether or not I am cooking his recipes, the sensibility Brooks Headley brings to his craft has influenced my own cooking, and I am glad to have discovered a book I would otherwise not have looked at twice.

My personal criterion for reviews is simply that the reviewer avoids being rude. I think Silvia Killingsworth owes an apology to Diana Henry for saying the recipes in Simple represent show-off home cooking. In fact, going back to re-read that line, I find the point she was making would have been made with that phrase left out. (I think calling vegetarians “assholes” in this review was ridiculous, and I am by no means excusing it, but I think it was a stupid joke that fell VERY flat.) This review has received a lot of well-written, thought-provoking negative comments. In fact, the esteemed Elissa Altman has unexpectedly weighed it, and I appreciate hearing what she has to say. Me, I’m not up in arms about it. I’ve read it a few times and don’t find that it wasn’t thoughtful, and unless I’m wrong, the number of recipes FOOD52 asks be cooked from a book were cooked. I would like to know how far in advance the bracket is actually in place, and how much time the reviewers have to cook from the books. The task is daunting.

I treasure Taste & Technique and do not in any way consider it a book of restaurant cooking. Naomi Pomeroy says “It’s my hope that this book will encourage you to get into the kitchen, take cooking seriously, and feel good about it. The only secret to becoming a great cook is to practice, practice, practice. If you like doing it, dedicate some time to perfecting it. Even if (and when) things don’t go exactly as planned, you should take deep pleasure in the act of making and sharing food with the people you love. That, to me, is the true joy of cooking.” As Julia Child’s breakthrough Mastering did when it was first published, it is my fervent hope that Taste & Technique will lead a new generation of interested cooks into the kitchen.

I have not cooked anything from My Two Souths yet. The person who eats with me hates coconut, coconut milk, and cilantro! Avoiding those ingredients, I have picked three recipes to start with. If the Garam Masala Filé Gumbo, Savoy and Green Apple Slaw, and Three-spice Carrot Cake are as good as they sound, I’ll be a happy cook.

So The Piglet is over for another year. Thanks to all those who commented. I enjoyed the comments as much as the reviews. Thank you, FOOD52, for a nice break from this year’s news, for Carey Nershi’s No-Knead Sandwich Bread, Jennifer Perillo’s Creamy Homemade Ricotta, and Posie Harwood’s Double Vanilla Butter Cake with Chantilly Cream.

783b5334 3415 40c6 8994 2245307bc4b2  img 0036

5 days ago LLStone

Very nicely said, Victoria Carr! I'm off to look up Carey Nershi's No-Knead Sandwich Bread. Cheers to Food52! I'm sorry to see The Piglet come to an end.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

5 days ago Victoria Carr

LLStone, Re the No-Knead Sandwich Bread, I cut the recipe in half (217 g brad flour, 216 grams all-purpose, both King Arthur) and bake it in a Lodge Loaf Pan. When I put it in the pan to rise, that's when I sprinkle flour on the top; then I put a Mason Cash bowl over it so that it doesn't stick to anything as it rises. I do not let it rise very far over the top of the loaf pan, and I let the oven preheat for a long time before I bake it for 35 minutes at 450°F. It's my go-to sandwich bread, freezes well, makes great sandwiches, and excellent toast.

9e358bd4 590e 4f1f 8866 b98bdb13214d  image

4 days ago Elissa Altman

Brava Victoria Carr. All points well taken.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

6 days ago Eve

I am relieved that "Taste and Technique," which every judge seems to have passed on to the next level despite a feeling that it was overly difficult and unrealistic for home cooks, did not win. "My Two Souths" has been described consistently as both simple and reliably delicious. Thank you for choosing a real vs. an aspirational cookbook.

That said, I agree with folks that feel a little cheated of a promised Lena Dunham review.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

6 days ago Eve

I am relieved that "Taste and Technique," which every judge seems to have passed on to the next level despite a feeling that it was overly difficult and unrealistic for home cooks, did not win. "My Two Souths" has been described consistently as both simple and reliably delicious. Thank you for choosing a real vs. an aspirational cookbook.

That said, I agree with folks that feel a little cheated of a promised Lena Dunham review.

9e358bd4 590e 4f1f 8866 b98bdb13214d  image

6 days ago Elissa Altman

Possibly the most peculiar judging I've ever read on The Piglet, and I can't help but respond to this both as a cookbook editor, a former specialty bookseller for a food retailer, and a home cook with professional training: to draw a comparison between these two books is like comparing proverbial apples to oranges. Both delicious. Both fruit. Both grow on trees. Not at all similar, and you couldn't possibly put them in the same category. The reader/cook who loved, for example, Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook because they could learn how to make Oysters & Pearls was likely not the same reader or cookbook buyer who would gravitate to Ina Garten. Both are lovely; both are inspiring. But to make a comparison between them and say that one was better than the other simply doesn't work; they're far too different. Taste and Technique is a great book (although not for me; when I want restaurant food, I go to a restaurant); so is My Two Souths. They're about as far apart on the cookbook spectrum as two books could possibly get, and likely meant for two very different audiences. As for the judging process, I agree with a lot of the comments below: every judge should be required to cook, at minimum, 5 recipes from each book. Also: vegetarians = assholes? Why would this person even say that? To be asked to judge The Piglet is an honor presumably given to someone who has shown a demonstrable love (or at least like) for food. All food. Even vegetarian food. This left me not wanting to pick up either book because I have no faith in the judge who seemed disinterested, at best.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

6 days ago alygator

The crude knock against vegetarians was simply a poor attempt at humor. Even as a steakhouse loving carnivore I was offended!!

9e358bd4 590e 4f1f 8866 b98bdb13214d  image

5 days ago Elissa Altman

I'm a meat-eater too. It just seemed odd, and out of the blue.

De321bfe 9348 45fc 97b7 a661b7afdb20  2 2 15

5 days ago Emily

I totally agree about the silliness of a person hating on vegetarians on a very vegetarian-friendly website. Also the whole "Put bacon on everything" frat-boy aesthetic is getting kinda old!

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

5 days ago petalpusher

The vegetarian remark was solely for her daughter. No vegetarians should be affronted. But I must disagree Elissa, on the 2 furthest cookbooks apart on the Piglet spectrum is Dories Cookies and the Land of Fish & Rice. And after the few years of enjoying the Piglet, this drama is what keeps us coming back. If we all had to have a serious realistic cookbook judgement the competition would be called the Sow. Not the cute little squealer who just wants to play and never be caught.

9e358bd4 590e 4f1f 8866 b98bdb13214d  image

4 days ago Elissa Altman

Im not sure I understand your point: isn't a "serious realistic cookbook judgement" as you say, what The Piglet (as opposed to "the Sow") is all about? Hence the largely very serious and thoughtful judges and the time they spend at their job?

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

4 days ago petalpusher

Please, no disrespect for the judges. It was delightfully interesting to see how each one took to their task. And no, The Piglet does not come off as a 'serious' competition. With no rules on what the judges have to test or how the cookbooks are selected, it's more of a celebration of the creative process, a cookbook blog happening. Being 'fenced in' by set rules or very wordy expectations of the readers is not why Food 52 released The Piglet, in my humble opinion. It is for our entertainment, education and to sell some great cookbooks. I salute Food52 for letting The Piglet run free. Have you witnessed a piglet squeezing through a weak spot on a fence to run rampant with pure abandon, upsetting all conventionality? We were laughing so hard it took forever to catch it, getting a little frustrated along the way. Ingenious name for a competition.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

6 days ago lynne

I've really enjoyed all the reviews for the pleasure of the writing, and the look at the disparate ways people are involved with their kitchens and cooking. Thanks to the Piglet!!! I took almost all these books out from the library, reading and cooking from some of them; it's been a great experience and a joy! Then I bought Persia, My two souths, and Taste and technique. By the way, I live in a semi-rural suburban area, and can easily find all the ingredients in local food stores or in a pinch at Amazon.

4798a9c2 4c90 45e5 a5be 81bcb1f69c5c  junechamp

6 days ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

So, if Lena Dunham was supposed to judge the final, she didn't.
And the person who did only cooked TWO recipes from Taste and Technique. A finalist deserves better than this. How many did she cook from the winner? Didn't appear to be very many.
FYI, judges for the Beard and IACP competitions have to cook a minimum of 5 recipes from each candidate.
My Two Souths is clearly a wonderful book, but I would have loved to see a fairer comparison between these books. They are very different from one another.

76db7330 0dca 4051 9b0c b9ca7bed7396  fb avatar

6 days ago Lindseay

The Morning News' excellent Tournament of Books has every judge cast a vote in the finals. It's quite dramatic and much more comprehensive. I love the Piglet and congrats on doing another one. Would love to see the final judging structure change for next year. You can see last year's TOB finals judging here: http://themorningnews.org...

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

6 days ago alygator

Thanks for the link!

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar

5 days ago Elizabeth Clauser

I love the TOB, and to have a cookbook version is great. I have to agree, though, that the quality of the judges and flaws in the final round format are frustrating every year. I feel like I read the first Piglet round with so much enthusiasm and then am increasingly disaffected as the rounds get more serious. I hope the wonderful folks behind Food 52 consider making some changes next year. I understand wanting judges that aren't "recipe developers" but most people on this site are very interested and food, and I'm willing to bet there are more than few stellar home cooks. Please don't talk down to me - this review talked down to me. I'm not even talking about the veg comment. It was in poor taste given the readership, but I understood it to be a dumb joke. BUT as someone who loves to cook, is an avid homecook, and owns literally hundreds of cookbooks, I'd much prefer a review that could discuss the relative pros and cons of any cookbook in the list. Please show some respect to the community.

That said, I plan on getting both of these books - not based on this review, but on the other reviews.

Let's Keep in Touch!

Get the recipes and features that have us talking, plus first dibs on events and limited-batch products.

(Oh, and $10 off your order of $50 or more in the Food52 Shop, too.)

Please enter a valid email address.