Nourish Me Home approaches cooking from the highly personal perspective of one of the former chefs of San Francisco’s Bar Tartine. Cortney Burns’ culinary vision is driven not only by an emphasis on seasonality, but by the idea of cooking as “a spiritual and artistic practice.”
It’s difficult to take full advantage of all that this book offers without acknowledging Burns’ interest in a food world which is inextricable from ideas of alchemy and elemental powers that are not typically invoked in cookbooks. Her story of learning to draw inspiration from place and to chose use ingredients according to criteria that are not strictly culinary runs throughout the book, as does evidence of her training as an anthropologist. It’s a fascinating combination.
That said, there is much arresting food in Nourish Me Home. Burns has a great palate that is capable of some daring imaginative leaps. A beet salad with parsnip skordalia is inspired by a Szechuan potato dish. She adapts the crisped chicken skin her mother made to go with chopped liver into a gribenes terrine. And who knows where the inspiration came from to make a hazelnut and orange blossom custard and serve it with salt-roasted pears. But it’s hard to argue with.
Fans of the Bar Tartine cookbook will be delighted to know that there is also a “Larder” chapter packed with pickles, vinegars, flavored oils, spice mixes, infused salts, and other staples and condiments.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.