Omnivore - Cooking: Family meals the Ferran Adria way

A cookbook that can take you places


  • Phaidon Press, The Family Meal

I've slowly been working through the cookbooks I acquired around the holidays - Hugh Acheson's lovely A New Turn in the South, the remarkable The Art of Living According to Joe Beef, and Ferran Adria's The Family Meal. Joe Beef may be my favorite for its unabashed quirkiness and passion, but The Family Meal is the most unique.

Why? Well, first, there's that combination of the words "Ferran Adria" and "Family Meal" on the cover. Adria is known as a guru of the abstract and ambitious, so this juxtaposition of madcap genius and simple home cooking is inherently intriguing. Second, the book is organized into 31 different three-course meals, as if you might actually tackle a meal each day for a month. (If anyone has actually done this, I applaud you, and humbly ask if I might stay in your guest bedroom and eat at your table for, oh, maybe 31 nights.) Third, the recipes don't follow the traditional format of a recipe, but rather materialize in the form of photos of each step, with little text bubbles speaking to what that step of the recipe entails. I know there are people who love to follow pictures, and I'm actually a visual guy, but the lack of literal step 1-step 2-step 3 instructions throws me off a bit. Maybe the point is to get you to trust your instincts more? Possibly. I do appreciate the little time line that accompanies each three-course meal, so you know when to get busy doing what, but there's that little wrinkle I like to call "nested recipes" that can throw things off - recipes within recipes that stack up like those Russian matryoshka dolls.

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