A Brief Review of
FARMfood: Greener Living
With Chef Daniel Orr.
Flexibound: Indiana UP, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]
Reviewed by Chris Smith.
Daniel Orr is one of the most-heralded chefs in Indiana, and he is without a doubt the finest local food chef in the state. Although he has traveled extensively and honed his culinary skills in New York City, France, Belgium and elsewhere, he eventually came home and opened the restaurant FARMbloomington in Bloomington, Indiana, the home of Indiana University and perhaps the cultural mecca of Indiana. I was excited to hear of the release of his new cookbook based on his experiences, most notably coming home again to Indiana. He says: “FARMfood is all about… going ‘home’ and getting back in touch with locally produced foods while cooking with a global palette of flavors picked up along the way, and then sharing these culinary travels with my family, old friends, and new folks I meet every day at FARMbloomington” (x).
Illustrated with Orr’s own photography, FARMfood superbly captures the colors and textures of both the local produce that make his recipes excel and the local market venues where such produce is sold. I imagine that many of the recipes here are beyond the everyday scope of most people’s cuisine (or many of them are beyond the limit of our family’s everyday budget at least!), but they are inspiring, especially in their focus on using local produce. The recipes are organized in the book more or less by the order of meals in the day, and within the broad strokes of the meals are types of foods befitting that meal – e.g., soups, sandwiches, burgers and drinks(???) for lunch. Orr’s commentary throughout is wonderful, bringing the recipes to life and raising FARMfood to a level above the typical cookbook. Given that Autumn is now upon us, our family is turning again to a steady diet of soups. Thus, I paid particular attention to Orr’s section on soups, and therein found a number of tantalizing recipes, and in particular the “Farmers’ Market Corn Chowder with Herbs” and the “Roasted Tomato Soup with Feta and Grilled Red Onions” seemed like recipes that might likely end up in our autumnal rotation of soups.
FARMfood will be of particular interest to mid-westerners (especially Hoosiers), but its colorful and stellar design couple with the excellence of cuisine that it offers make it a cookbook of the highest caliber that will be relevant to most North Americans.