electronic Gourmet Guide

California Home Cooking

Chronicles of Left Coast Cuisines


One of the great chroniclers of the foods, crops and people of contemporary California is Michele Anna Jordan. One of her earlier books, A Cook's Tour of Sonoma, showcased the tangy goat cheeses, lusty olive oils and seasonal produce of this wine-rich region. Now, her newest release, California Home Cooking, takes on not only the state, but its history as experienced through traditional American cooking. What could be more exciting than eating your way across California, except to dine across its decades as well?

But what is California home cooking?


"California home cooking, like California cuisine, is a style of cooking shaped by many overlapping influences, including the land itself, the dearness of the water, the early European settlers and the later immigrants from every continent, the rise of the automobile, the growth of corporate agriculture, and, of course, the changing eating habits of Americans. All of these elements have been distilled into a distinctive culinary style that had its genesis in the state's earliest days and continues to evolve."

In its 500 pages and over 400 recipes, California Home Cooking gives us casual food, informal and wholly satisfying. The land's varied settlers—Mexican, Spanish, Italian, Asian, and others—imprint their cultural palates in these recipes, dishes that can be familiarly comfortable or new and intriguing. These recipes will fill your kitchen with aromas of ginger, cumin, shallots, garlic, saffron, lemon, fennel, oregano...the list goes on. Californian food doesn't try to be fusion: by circumstances of history, culture and geography, it just is.

It has been said that chicken is to a chef what a blank canvas is to a painter. As such, I have selected three of the many chicken recipes to present as a sampler of the exciting variety of recipes in California Home Cooking. This is one book I will be looking to as a source of inspiration for many years to come.


Photo: Michele Anna Jordan, left; Kate Heyhoe, right.

California Home Cooking
by Michele Anna Jordan
Harvard Common Press
$16.95 paperback, ISBN: 1-55832-119-5
$29.95 hardcover, ISBN: 1-55832-118-7
illustrated, 528 pages, 1997
Information provided by the publisher.


California Home Cooking

About the Book


This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998.

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This page modified February 2007