To cook well requires taste, judgment, kitchen skills, and the ability to learn through experience. What is rarely included in that list of ingredients, however, is wisdom—a broader perspective, taking ordinary activities and ordinary thinking and understanding them in depth—discovering what they are really all about.
Robert Capon (1925-2013) was an Episcopal priest, who loved food, revelled in working with it, and, above all, sought to understand what it was all about. Built, ostensibly, around a single meal, consisting of roast lamb and its accompaniments, his book is an ingenious and immensely good-natured account of the component ingredients and how we work with them to please our palates, satisfy our hungers, and elevate our sense of well-being.
Ranging from the science and the art of cooking, to issues in theology and moral philosophy, Capon offers his readers a rich, new vision and intimate understanding of the means by which these physical and spiritual pursuits are turned into a gastronomic as well as an intellectual feast.
Nach read this book the first time in 1969, soon after it was published. To this day he recalls the section beginning on page 10: ”Select three or four medium size onions….” The ensuing seven or eight pages consist of a culinary lesson and a tribute to that sturdy allium that is absolutely hypnotic, treating an array of issues from the character of onion skin to the texture of a well-cut slice to linking the astonishing structure of the bulb to the miracle of Creation. The weaving of down-to-earth culinary instruction with Capon’s thinking on an entirely different plane is like fresh air coming through the kitchen window.
The Supper of the Lamb is now 50-plus years old, and it has remained in print, with about 10 different editions in the United States alone. Our copy is the original Doubleday edition, with the familiar crouching lamb stamped on the case. No printing number is indicated, but it is clearly early. A very good looking hardcover, fresh and clean inside, with an intact, nicely preserved dust jacket safely graded as Very Good and now in mylar.