SITTING ON MY BOOKSHELF IS a slim purple volume from 1982 called The Gourmet’s Lexicon, an encyclopedic and indispensable listing of cuisines, dishes, and cooking techniques and styles. What Webster was to words, author Norman Kolpas is to food. Often I will leaf through it at random, trying to expand my cookery-consciousness; other times I will use it to look up something I see mentioned in a recipe or on a cooking documentary. (I’ve even used it as a basis for a few Prosatio Silban tales.) Whatever the need or occasion, it’s a fine ingredient in any cook’s or foodie’s library.
The Gourmet’s Lexicon actually has two introductions; the first is titled “How To Use This Book,” the second, simply, “Introduction.” As the former is more obvious, I have taken the First Graf from the latter:
During the past decade, nothing less than a revolution has happened in the way we eat. In our homes we have food processors that enable us to whip up a hollandaise sauce or knead a brioche dough in a matter of seconds, and microwave ovens that reduce cooking time, encouraging us to spend more time trying new dishes. In our search for recipes we buy cookbooks with a passion, and where once we read only our local newspaper’s food column, today we may subscribe to any number of gourmet magazines.