Originally Posted April 5,2020 in the Archive
It wasn’t all that long ago that I picked up Dining in by Alison Roman and regarded it as one of my favorite cookbooks of all time. During the great cookbook release of October 2019, she dropped another cookbook on me in my most trying time: Nothing Fancy. I couldn’t get it. I waited patiently until I started a new job, and here we are, visiting Alison Roman for another cookbook of the month: Nothing Fancy. April won’t be anything fancy, that’s for sure.
‘Unfussy food for having people over’, says the first page. I don’t have people over very often. I most certainly won’t be having people over when my entire state is under a Stay-at-Home order during COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean this cookbook isn’t for me. I learned that pretty quickly when I picked up Dining in with a degree of skepticism before it completely blew my mind. I thought that a big time New York Times cooking writer would be a pretentious asshole, but her writing is among my favorite about food.
So I know right off the bat that my expectations are going to be high for Nothing Fancy. I crack it open and smell that new book smell. I look at the pages, and I know that if you told me it was Dining In, I’d believe you. She’s landed on a brand, and it works. It’s a magical combination of professional and friendly. Pure white page, minimalist font. Beautiful photography.
I haven’t been paying much attention to the press for this one, so I don’t know if there are any recipes that I should focus on. I’m just going to do what I’ve done for every other cookbook that I’ve cooked out of for you. I’m going to wing it. I feel much more comfortable about that coming into a cookbook from an author that I already know and trust. Whatever i pick, I can rest assured that it will likely go over well in my house.
The only problem is of course our current environment surrounding grocery shopping and food. My only complaint of Dining In was the call for things like preserved lemons, labneh, and other somewhat specialist ingredients that are difficult to get in a traditional American Grocery store. Blessedly, Alison has started to offer alternatives that people can use that would normally be in the grocery store.
It’s pretty food meant to serve a crowd, so I expect that i’ll come out of each recipe with a good amount of leftovers to stretch over a few days with just my husband and I in the house. This would be true with or without COVID-19 stopping any kind of social visits. We very rarely have company, but if we did, I’d trust Alison Roman with feeding them. I haven’t even cooked out of this book yet.
I will try to post at least one article a week about my cooking experience with Nothing Fancy similar to what was done toward the end of March for Japanese Home Cooking. I had so many articles for that, and yet my pandemic anxiety kept me from just logging on and putting the articles online.