I’ve been surveying a bunch of cookbooks lately, tracing the development of Edward Espe Brown’s recipes, his influence on California cuisine (he did not invent mesquite grilling, since meat is not on his Buddhist menu, but he may have invented California pizza, Spago, Wolfgang Puck and all his pineapple pizza spawn), and on what is now the commodity fetishization of farmer’s market vegetables and locavorism. New York City’s number one chef, Mario Batali, dropped out of the fast corporate chef track in the 1990s and went to cook in a 25-seat trattoria in a small village in Italy for three years. He never stops talking about pristine produce and married his farmer’s daughter. He calls it Italy, but it’s really Eddie.

Edward Espe Brown

Edward Espe Brown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of Espe Brown’s cooking foremothers is Adelle Davis, who was the nutritionist rediscovered by hippie dippie cooks like me in the early 1970s. I have my original yellowed edition of Let’s Cook It Right, and have not salted boiling food from the first day I read Adelle over 40 years ago.

Adelle Davis

Adelle Davis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I cracked her open recently, on my road trip, to do some of the tedious recipe comparison/origin work that is the backbone of the Espe Brown story. You never believe this of a nutritionist, and certainly not from the hippie-dippie ones, but what a good cook Adelle was!

Yesterday I made one of the aspics I pencilled a star alongside 40 years ago — slow and steady crosses the finish line, baby — and it is all I want to eat. Martha Stewart, having learned a lesson from Real Simple, a rival mag which pretends to be the anti-Martha but is weirdly anti-pleasure, has greatly simplified her recipes since the days I spent $100 on ingredients for minestrone and three days chopping that shit up, making stock, picking leaves off stems of herbs, and so on. This month she has a whole page of no cook soup, which almost qualify for the coveted Cuisine Dolce Far Niente tag I very seldom award.

So I made Adelle’s beet/smoked fish/apple aspic and Martha’s cantalope and chili soup. Cold fuds, mmmmmmm. Even with the enormous, perfectly tasteless cantalope I got from Smith’s, you bastards, and some doctoring with rice vinegar and honey, the soup is beautiful and mouth feely and almost tasty, and Adelle’s aspic is all I want to eat. She has one mother aspic recipe and about 50 changes to ring on it. I’m so psyched. Cold soup and aspic all summer long.