I am not a fan of cookbooks. Rather, I am a fan of books about cooking, such as "What Einstein Told His Cook" by Robert Wolke and "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen" by Harold McGee.
I was more than surprised when Craig Flinn's recipe book, "Fresh & Local" was checked out of the library on my behalf. I expected another boring cookbook, especially one that purports to celebrate local, seasonal and fresh "Canadian" cooking. Top that with the fact that I have never eaten Flinn's food and my expectations were modest.
Flinn, a protege of celebrity chef Michael Smith (who provides the forward), has, in many respects, surpassed the master. Smith, who seems to be a chef who would enjoy knowing one of his charges has achieved such lofty goals, would undoubtedly agree.
Don't be put off by the number of ingredients listed for each recipe. This isn't fast food, nor should it be. Look at the the wonderful bounty offered every day by markets in Canada - even the more mainstream ones such as Longo's, Fortino's and, yes, Metro, and you'll see that every ingredient is within easy reach. The food may require effort on your part, but isn't that part of the reward - knowing you put more into a meal for your family than just heating a processed frankenfood from a package in your freezer? The recipes demand many ingredients in order to ensure that they are tasty, healthy and have more than one dimension.
I can't wait to try his food in person some day. It might be a bold statement to make, but Flinn may well have answered the question "does Canada have a culinary identity?"
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