A cookbook needs to fulfill much more than just provide us with recipes. Ideally it appeals to us visually as well as content wise. I have come to think of cookbooks as the grown-up’s counterpart of illustrated children’s books. We do not just use them, we enter another world by means of opening them. Enchantment is what we are looking for. And advice. Most cookbooks, unless they are of the „How to“ and „Basic cooking“ kind, are conceptual, either dedicated to the cuisine of a country or region or to a specific food group. Many are written by famous chefs.
Tessa Kiros’ Apples for Jam: A Colorful Cookbook is unique in its kind. It artfully blends memoir and cookbook and takes us on a voyage back to our own childhood. Apples for Jam consists of a collection of easily followed recipes interwoven with wonderfully colorful photos and prettily designed pages.
The recipes we find stem from the realm of family cooking. Recipes handed down from one generation to the next. Meals and food that is and was meant to nourish, comfort and console. The type of food mama used to cook when we came home from school worn out or downright crying. You will also find a lot of favourite children’s food that seems to have stayed remarkably the same over the decades. Children’s palates do not crave for the all too sophisticated fancy cuisine of five-star chefs. And maybe we have gotten tired of it as well. We want the simple things again. Homemade meals with only a few ingredients that are all the more flavourful for being recognizable. You will find recipes for salads and main courses like “Chicken cutlets with parsley and capers”, alcohol free drinks such as “Cranberry syrup” and a wide range of deserts among which there are ice creams, cookies and cakes. No fancy hors d’oeuvre or starter courses.
It is a book that will especially appeal to color sensitive types as it is organised by colors, starting with orange, yellow, pink and green, heading on towards, gold, white and brown and ending with color themes “monochrome”, “stripes” and “multicolor”. Recipes and ingredients echo and play along the lines of those colors.
But what is maybe the nicest about this book is its capacity to enchant. If you do not feel like cooking you can still enjoy the artwork, relish in the photos and read the little stories and Tessa’s childhood memories and let her take you back on a trip to your own cherished past.
Apples for Jam: A colorful cookbook by Tessa Kiros (2007), Andrews McMeel Publishing, Kansas City