Based on the competitive nature of the publishing business, the mere fact that someone made the decision to re-introduce a cookbook twenty-five years after its initial publication says a lot about the recipes it contains. Just a quick perusal of the Silver Palate Cookbook makes it readily apparent that the decision to publish a 25th- anniversary edition was the right one, and this choice will benefit everyone from novice cooks to culinary masters.
The Silver Palate Cookbook is a lightweight paperback with a heavyweight presentation and wide range of recipes. The book covers all stages of the hosting of an event, from fancy finger foods, to soups, to perfect pastas, to main courses, to cheese and breads, to sweets, and even to brunch. The section entitled “Mousse Magic” was particularly interesting to me, since I never imagined that finishing a meal with an extravagant lime, peach melba, ginger pumpkin, strawberry, mocha, amaretto, or chocolate mousse was a goal within my reach.
The simplicity of the recipes is also appealing—particularly because a little extra effort (such as preparing one’s own herb mayonnaise by combining mayonnaise, watercress, parsley, and chives) greatly enhances the entire meal. The recipes offer clear and concise directions as well as illustrations that are so vibrant you can almost smell and taste the final creations. Further, the authors provide sharp commentary that adds to the book’s appeal. For example, the book suggests that you spend a bit more money on additional staff at your dinner party—even if it is not catered—so you can direct your attention to entertaining guests and enjoying the results of your preparation. I also like the quick study on cheeses, which is a great starting point to learn how the appropriate selection can complement your meal.
Some amusing quotes serve the dual purpose of enhancing the entertainment value of the book and illustrating both how much cooking has changed and how much it has stayed the same. For example, according to Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, “[o]ne of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”
Yes, there are many cookbooks available and yes, it is difficult to find one that suits an individual’s tastes and needs. However, the Silver Palate Cookbook has something for everyone and, now that I have moved through this twenty-fifth anniversary edition, I can hardly wait to see how they improve it for its next milestone when it celebrates its fiftieth year.