I’ve been mulling this one over in my head for some time. I had a very… strong reaction to State Bird Provisions: A Cookbook when I first read it. To be perfectly honest, as a home cook, it made me feel like a rube. Now, if you’re reading this from one of the coasts, maybe you think I am a rube. I live in the most flyover of flyover states. But let me tell you this. I get excited about food. I read cookbooks like they’re novels. I plan day trips and vacations around wonderful places to eat. Food and cooking is a source of wonder and happiness for me. I think food is one of the great unifiers that crosses the boundaries of state and culture.
My attitude has mellowed a bit but I think my overall impression remains. State Bird Provisions: A Cookbook crossed no such boundaries for me. Now, don’t get me wrong. I would adore visiting State Bird Provisions. Their website describes them as “Urban-rustic storefront setting for a changing menu of American small plates served dim-sum style.” This right here. This sounds like something I could get behind. Would I go to this restaurant? YES. Would I pore over the menu with delight? YES. Would I adore the food? YES.
So what is the problem? (She asks, feeling a bit apologetic.)
The problem is the translation of these dishes for the home cook. The recipes tend to have so many steps and components that I’ve crossed them off my To Make list before I’ve even added them, though I seldom shy away from complicated recipes. That makes me sad. Many of the ingredient lists also contain things that I would have a difficult time sourcing in Topeka, KS. That makes me frustrated. Yes… Kansas City is an hour away and I can always order online. That’s an awful lot of hassle just to pick up a specific kind of cheese or a bottle of Japanese seven spice, just to try out a single recipe. And… if so many of the recipes fall into that category, it begs the question of why bother at all if I’m constantly having to search hither and yon for a wedge of this or a pinch of that? It is a fabulous thing to be in a place like San Fran, with bountiful produce selection and regular access to exquisite ingredients. Most of America falls outside of that sphere.
While I did find State Bird Provisions: A Cookbook an edifying read, I did not find it an inspiring one. I didn’t close this cookbook feeling gleeful and wanting to make ALL THE THINGS.
My ‘To Make’ List
- Pork Ribs Glazed in Their Own Juices
- Polenta “Elote” with Corn Salad, Tomato Aioli, and Queso Fresco
This review is based on a NetGalley ARC provided in exchange for an honest, unbiased opinion.