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R. L. Wallace
I am a New York City attorney with over 40 years' serious-amateur cooking experience. My cooking is the antithesis of Mediterranean cuisine: I generally want a blended richness rather than a light freshness (a Strauss tone poem instead of a Telemann concerto, or cooking down jams instead of using liquid pectin). I value basic quality ingredients like vanilla beans or good butter, but have little use for such "in" things as brining, food processors, sun-dried tomatoes, or chichi chocolates that taste weird. I think Americans' tastes are being corrupted by a gross overuse of salt and lemon juice in recipes for just about everything. My favorite cooking is classic French cuisine, but I try to learn how to cook for myself any dish I've eaten that I want to be sure of having again in the future. Among my favorite cookbooks are Escoffier's "Le Guide Culinaire" in French, and Jacques Pepin's two early books on technique and method. (As for "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," it was a landmark when it appeared in 1961, and many of its recipes are still hard to beat; but a half century's experience has uncovered enough errors and misinformation to make it no longer as trustworthy as we all once thought.) Like any other repetitive activity, the actual mechanics of cooking can sometimes be a chore -- but the joy of eating the finished product remains undiminished!