I picked up One Big Table by Molly O’Neill a couple years ago on sale. This is a big, heavy book resulting from the author’s quest to travel the country and document first hand what Americans are cooking up in their kitchens. It opens with a lovely illustration inside the front cover of the United States and its agricultural products with the products overlaid on a US map to show their origins. These clever and informative old-timey graphics are sprinkled throughout the cookbook and add to its charm, as do the little vignettes on American life and ingredients. Every recipe has its own backstory included, which is useful and entertaining and the patchwork variety of recipes really illustrates the diversity in heritage we celebrate as Americans.
As for the recipes themselves, there are a lot of them. More than 600 in fact. I’ve made a handful over the years and haven’t found a dud yet. This month I dusted off my copy of the cookbook (I have 300+ cookbooks in my collection so rotation among the volumes can be slow paced) and prepared the Makah Indian Slow Cooked Salmon one evening for dinner, Mrs. Dubrow’s Carrot Noodles in Buttery Chervil Sauce as a side another evening, and Coletta Boan’s Peach Pie in the Pie Day Committee’s Crust for a dinner party dessert. Everything was delicious as expected and my guests raved over the peach pie. I just might track down Ms. Boan on Facebook to thank her for sharing her recipe with Ms. O’Neill for the book. The editors have done a great job of making sure the recipes are accurately documented as to yield and that the instructions are clear and easy to follow, which is always appreciated.
Verdict: recommended buy.