For those of you who aren't as fascinated wth cooking and cookbooks as I am, Patricia Wells is a cooking teacher and coookbook author, and she drives me flying INSANE.
I am in the process of trying to cull my books (yet again), and to that end, am re-reading things. I have decided that Patricia Wells MUST GO.
Now, the recipes sound WONDERFUL. I mean, mouthwateringly good. BUT...there is no way you or I could ever cook them properly.
Because, you see, Patricia Wells lives in Provence, France, in a million year old farmhouse with a garden and olive trees and a built-in bread oven and a built-in pizza oven and French markets to go to at least twice a week. She insists on telling you where you can get the ingredients for all her dishes, which is very nice of her...but it's terribly difficult for those of us who don't happen to be a neighbor of hers. One of her recipes starts out chattily, "Now this is something I make with the olives from our olive trees." Well, that's very nice. I live in one bedroom in the East Village, lady. I don't happen to HAVE any handy olive trees.
Nor do I have any of the lovely olive oil she gets from a supplier in Provence...admittedly, she very helpfully gives the name, address and phone number of said supplier, but it doesn't do me a lot of good, now does it? Even though I spend a fair amount of time in France, I don't spend it in Provence.
I know perfectly well that I could get a lot of these ingredients right here in Manhattan, but the running around it would entail is madly involved (let's see, I can get those olives on East 79th Street, and that olive oil over at the place on the Lower East Side, and I think Citarella in the West Village can order the langoustines...oy). And I know I can order a lot of things online, but the cost is pretty astronomical...and since I live in a small rental apartment, it's unlikely in the extreme that I'm going to have that bread oven and pizza oven built.
So I bid farewell to Patricia Wells. I wish her many more years of lovely eating in Provence, and feel that she can probably get along without me quite well. And when I want large shrimp, I will happily go to Chinatown, a short bus ride away and an excellent price. And you can't beat it for freshness...sometimes when I've been browsing fish markets in Chinatown, a live fish has thrown itself off the pile and landed at my feet. You can't GET any fresher than that, can you?