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Opening Arguments

Eat it

What I'm reading right now (besides the usual junk fiction) is "Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin," featuring the musings and recipes of a New York restaurant owner and cook some might call eccentric or irascible. (He doesn't think the customer is always right, for example; he claims to throw at least one a day out.) I love a good cookbook -- I'll thumb through one on appetizers the way most people do with their favorite magazines. And I love a good food book -- something like Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential," for example, a first-person account of the macho world of big-time chefdom. This is both a good cookbook and a good food book, and I recommend it to all people who love to mess around in the kitchen. Shopsin is said to have about 900 recipes at his place, and he's always adding more, and this book has only 100 or so, but they're fascinating ones. How can you resist Slutty Pancakes?

What makes this a good book for the home cook is Shopsin's basic philosophy, which is that you should simplify your cooking by using ingredients you know and foods you already enjoy and then experimenting. You'll get much better results than by trying to painstakingly follow exact recipes for exotic things you've never experienced.