It’s a testament to the infectiousness of Colwin’s enthusiasm that her recipes seem appealing even though the food she described was often unappealing to the point of being categorically gross – and she knew it. Her favorite foods include mashed vegetable fritters, meatloaf, steamed puddings, and the jelly that surrounds cold leftover meat, spread on toast and eaten for breakfast. Her enthusiasm for fermented Chinese black beans is boundless, and in several of her recipes these salty, pungent beans are combined with cheese, or yams. “A cold steak sandwich is sort of disgusting, but it is also sort of wonderful,” she confesses, after specifying that this sandwich must include the hardened cold meat drippings, plus butter, because “this is a recipe for people whose cholesterol is too low.” And “Chicken salad has a certain glamour about it.” In a chapter titled “Kitchen Horrors,” she includes a recipe for something called Suffolk Pond Pudding, a suet-heavy British dish that a horrified guest describes as tasting “like lemon-flavored bacon fat.” “I ate almost the entire pudding myself,” she gleefully reports. It’s also refreshing to read a cookbook written by someone who unabashedly confesses to having made baked chicken and a particular creamed spinach casserole literally every time dinner guests came over — for years.
This essential weirdness translates to a sense of unlimited permission, which might be why Colwin is especially beloved to people who, like her, specialize in writing non-expert, enthusiastic reports from the front lines of cooking trial and error – in other words, food bloggers. Indeed, some of them see her less as influence than as a sort of spiritual ancestor.
-Friend of the blog Emily Gould on Laurie Colwin.