by Sally Schneider
The purpose of this book is to introduce you to a way of cooking truly delicious food simply, easily, healthfully, and with pleasure, and to enhance the joy in sharing it. The impetus to write it—a ten-year endeavor—dates back to when I was a young chef, cooking and eating in wonderful restaurants and home kitchens in France, Italy, and the heartland of America. I adored all the rich, sumptuous food but realized I had to face the realities of weight gain, food allergies, and fluctuating blood sugar. As I grew older I became progressively more concerned about the long-term effects of a rich diet on my health and well-being.
Necessity set me on the path to find a way to cook and eat that would nurture my body as well as my soul and senses. I made myself a guinea pig for more diets and dreary "healthful" concoctions than I care to remember. I read widely on nutrition and diet, from the most iconoclastic to the most Mainstream. Most of these bleak regimes addressed only the physical side of eating, ignoring the other hungers that good food satisfies: hungers for the connection it can forge to friends and nature, for its sensual beauty, its colors, aromas, flavors, and textures; for the cultural and historical meaning it expresses; and, most important, for comfort and well-being.
In order to satisfy these deeper hungers, I realized I had to devise new cooking techniques to replace the high-fat cooking methods I grew up with. I brought all my professional experience to bear on translating the recipes of memory into healthier adaptations, experimenting by radically altering classic techniques or using them in a new way. Because I believe that prohibitions against delicious fats such as butter and cream and against sugar only increase desire, I exclude nothing in my cooking and do not count fat grams. Instead, I have devised new ways to use fat's special qualities to enhance the deeper experience of eating while respecting the realities of its impact on diet and health.
The style of cooking that I have evolved is deeply influenced by the Mediterranean cooking of Italy, France, Greece, and Spain, with a good dose of American regional foods and a smattering of Asian influences. It is not simply my Greek heritage that attracts me to Mediterranean cuisines; they most closely mirror the way I like to eat and cook: simply and deliciously, in tune with the seasons. In addition, the traditional Mediterranean way of eating has proven to be profoundly wise. Without counting fat grams or calories, Mediterranean people are among the healthiest and longest-lived in the world, with low incidence of coronary heart disease and cancer. Theirs is the model for my everyday diet: largely based on plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes; moderate amounts of fish, poultry, nuts, and wine; with a small amount of red meat, saturated fats, dairy products, and sugar and a minimum of prepared foods. I eat moderately day to day, and periodically I eat with abandon.
Moderation and the Pleasure Principle
Food clearly has a profound emotional, even spiritual, impact on human beings. It is a primal source of pleasure, comfort, and sharing with friends, a link to culture and our roots. But the "pleasure principle" is rarely considered in the determination of well-being, where indeed it may be as critical as the obvious nutritional content of foods. When people don't feel satisfied by the food they eat, they feel deprived, cut off from well-being. They often overeat lackluster foods in an attempt to gain a feeling of satiety. Yet many of the official recommendations for healthful diet would have us strip food bare of taste if need be in order to eradicate fat, commonly viewed as the dietary cause of woes from obesity to heart disease to cancer...
A New Way to Cook
by Sally Schneider
Photographs by Maria Robledo
$40 (U.S.); hardcover
Article reprinted by permission.
This page created June 2002
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