Life in the Slow (And Unprocessed) Lane

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It's no wonder Sally Fallon had to self-publish her "Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats" (New Trends). The hefty paperback makes no promises that cooking is a snap or that a good meal can be made in less than 30 minutes: Grains need to be soaked. (That helps break down phytic acids and improves mineral absorption.) The best breads require a fermented starter. The best yogurt is made at home.

First published in 1996, "Nourishing Traditions," which is available at most bookstores and online, has sold 310,000 copies. (Fallon just ordered 40,000 more, its 11th printing.) The book contains more than 700 recipes for traditional foods such as sauerkraut and sweetbreads; retro dishes such as chicken supreme (with mushrooms, shallots and white wine) and "Oriental-style" salmon; and global comfort food such as stracciatella, Roman egg soup and Sol Long Tang, Korean long-simmered beef broth. Fallon includes explanations about why those foods promote good health.

The book gets its message across in the form of a series of lighthearted "Know Your Ingredients" sidebars. Readers are invited to peruse long lists of ingredients containing preservatives, gums and chemicals, then asked to guess which food they represent. (The one with 34 ingredients, including reconstituted skim milk, graham cracker crumbs, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, hydrogenated coconut oil and lactylated mono- and diglycerides? Weight Watchers Chocolate Mousse.)

Not all the recipes will be easy for a novice cook to pull off. But all lack the fussiness found in many chef recipes. "We try to meet people where they are," Fallon says. "But our message is, 'You have to be in the kitchen, sometimes.' "

-- Jane Black

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