I've been away from home the last week at a summer rental house,
confronting all the adjustments required in an unfamiliar kitchen:
radiant burners instead of propane, non-stick pans instead of
cast-iron, and above all, no cookbooks except the ones I brought.
I brought just 5, which I thought was pretty restrained. And
four of those were for ice cream and desserts (assignments I was
I've come to rely on the potent combination of EYB and my
cookbook library. How on earth was dinner supposed to get
In the end, it wasn't that hard. Without cookbooks, I found
myself using EYB in a different way...as an aid to memory and
improvisation. What is it that goes in those sticky,
vinegary chicken thighs I like? What sort of ingredients
go in pasta if you're making
a ricotta sauce? And, of course, that age-old question:
what can I make if what I've got is bacon, celery, and
EYB, it turns out, is a powerful tool even when uncoupled from
your library. If you know your way around a stove, it's not
difficult to extrapolate a working recipe from a list of
ingredients. And with its nearly half a million indexed
recipes, EYB is a virtual encyclopedia of what can be done with
that silent, unforthcoming army of ingredients in your fridge.
I'll be happy to get back to my kitchen garden and my cookbooks
this week. But in the meantime: thanks, EYB, for giving me a
helping hand in a foreign kitchen.