What's more civilized than pausing during the workday for a simple, yet delicious lunch? Peter Miller has written an ode to an often rushed or ignored meal in his handsome little book "Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal," (Abrams Image, $24.95).
Peter is the proprietor of Peter Miller Books, the architectural and design bookstore in downtown Seattle that recently relocated from First Avenue to 2326 2nd Ave where it shares space with Suyama Peterson Deguchi architects. The store is a gem, and so is Peter's first book.
For years, Peter and his colleagues have made and shared lunch. Every day. And without a kitchen. "Some of cooking is using food you love. And some of cooking is using food you have left. Lunch is about both," writes Peter. He and his crew creatively cobble lunch together from bits and pieces of leftovers brought from home, and food gathered from shops and easily prepared, from simple salads to soups and little sandwiches. This elegant little book is as much about planning ahead and knowing where to shop (Peter declares Mamnoon's hummus the best in the city....) as it is about recipes, equipment and ingredients.
There's nothing hasty about lunch at Peter Miller Books - it's a meal thoughtfully assembled, as much about ritual and conversation (friends and customers have learned to stop by at lunch time, as you can imagine) as about the food. Peter includes more than fifty recipes, a sense of Seattle's history, his joy in cooking, companionship, and a midday respite.
Why a cookbook review on a gardening blog? I love the book. It's about eating seasonally, with fresh flowers on the table. It's about how to make a very good basic vinaigrette and several methods of cooking lentils. It's both humble and sophisticated in its approach to what used to be, and still is in some cultures, celebrated as the most important and sociable meal of the day.
And it's a beautiful little hardback book, filled with enviable food photos, and graced with a striking red cover and endpapers. The kind of book which reassures me that books will survive blogs.