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Seven Fires:
Grilling the Argentine Way
By Francis Mallmann, with Peter Kaminsky
ISBN: 1579653545
Publisher: Artisan
Publication date: May, 2009
Format: Hardcover
List price: $35 
Type: Grilling; Ethnic; Argentine
Sample recipe: Burnt Tomato, Goat Cheese, & Anchovy Bruschetta
Ambitions
Intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
Apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive coffee-table Biblical stature
Competition: outclassed follower in the pack strong challenger likely champ
Content
Variety: too little too much unusual nice mix just right
# of recipes: <50 <100 <200 <300 ≥300
Practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% ≥80%
# of ingredients: ≤4 ≤7 ≤10 ≤12 >12
Ingredient hunt: 7-Eleven airfare required online pantry supermarket
Recipe complexity: too hard simple medium challenging professional
Instructions: inadequate verbose bare-bones full-figured educational
Time conscious: unconscious outright lies white lies realistic honorable
Cooking time: weekend project takes all day takes time ≥30 minutes <30 minutes
Added info: zip overwhelming scant balanced generous
Photos/drawings: none distracting decorative instructive glorious
Recipe results: ≤dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
Diet/Nutrition/Health
Nutritional info: none overwhelming hit or miss adequate comprehensive
Format/Ease of Use
Layout: ugh cluttered fine considerate work of art
Legibility: unpleasant challenging tolerable clear brilliant
Production quality: cheesy dubious years of service gift quality stunning
Page numbers: non-existent hard-to-find spotty sufficient every page
Table of contents: AWOL frustrating passable useful excellent
Index quality: none tragic adequate good a treasure
Page flipping: upsetting tedious acceptable rare never
Author
Writer: beginner food writer writing cook personality auteur
Cook: unknown self-taught chef teacher celebrity
Summary
Fulfills ambitions: falls short almost there satisfactory exceeds home run
Flavor delivered: sad inconsistent tasty delicious exceptional
Overall tone: sterile trying too hard straightforward best friend mom
Value: ouch! a little pricey worth splurging on the money a deal
Overall rating: skip it good very good excellent Ochef Top 100

Comments: A sense of place, innovative technique, and flavorful ingredients can make a wonderful cookbook. They can also make a cookbook that seems out of reach for everyday cooks. Seven Fires might seem like such a book.

It is all about the breadth and depth of Argentina. It is written by a celebrity chef. It is written by a native Spanish speaker. It's about seven different methods for cooking with open flame (on a grill, on flat cast iron, with a fire above and a fire down below, in an outdoor oven, cooking directly in coals and ashes, next to a fire on an iron cross, and in a cast-iron cauldron). It specifies a few hard-to-find ingredients.

Any one of those could make for a difficult cookbook; all together you'd expect them to doom it. And yet this is a wonderful cookbook. It is clear that a huge amount of work went in to making it accessible to North American cooks. The text is crystal clear. Even though it's all about cooking with fire, there are instructions for cooking on the stovetop, in the oven, and over a regular grill. Almost all the ingredients can be sourced in this country. And there are wonderful photographs that inspire and instruct.

The chapters cover the seven methods of roasting; appetizers; beef; lamb, pork, and chicken; fish and shellfish; vegetables; light meals and salads; desserts; breads; and such accompaniments as sauces, tapenades, salsas, vinaigrettes, confits, crumbs and chips, and dried and roasted vegetables.

It's not perfect. There's a statement in one recipe that "corn-fed beef lacks the necessary texture for this dish; grass-fed beef is the only way to go." Most of us do not have easy (or any) access to grass-fed beef.

But we want to make many of these dishes – even if we have to compromise here and there. The other thing we want to do after reading this book is schedule a trip to Argentina. Soon.



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