Culinary Intelligence by Peter Kaminsky

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Download a recipe for Sunday Frittata with Frizzled Leeks

“Peter Kaminsky’s book shows that eating better definitely doesn’t mean compromising on fantastic ingredients and delicious meals. It’s a great guide to how to make the most of your food.” —Jamie Oliver

For many of us the idea of healthy eating equals bland food, calorie counting, and general joylessness. Or we see the task of great cooking for ourselves as a complicated and expensive luxury beyond our means or ability. Now Peter Kaminsky—who has written cookbooks with four-star chefs (for example, Daniel Boulud) and no-star chefs (such as football legend John Madden)—shows us that anyone can learn to eat food that is absolutely delicious and doesn’t give you a permanently creeping waistline.

Just a couple years ago, Kaminsky found himself facing a tough choice: lose weight or suffer the consequences. For twenty years, he had been living the life of a hedonistic food  and outdoors writer, an endless and luxurious feast. Predictably, obesity and the very real prospect of diabetes followed. Things had to change. But how could he manage to get healthy without giving up the things that made life so pleasurable? In Culinary Intelligence, Kaminsky tells how he lost thirty-five pounds and kept them off by thinking more—not less—about food, and he shows us how to eat in a healthy way without sacrificing the fun and pleasure in food.

Culinary Intelligence shows us how we can do this in everyday life: thinking before eating, choosing good ingredients, understanding how flavor works, and making the effort to cook. Kaminsky tells us what we need to give up (most fast food and all junk food) and what we can enjoy in moderation (dessert and booze), but he also shows us how to tantalize our tastebuds by maximizing flavor per calorie, and he makes delectably clear that if we eat delicious, flavorful foods, we’ll find ourselves satisfied with smaller portions while still enjoying one of life’s great pleasures.

On Pinterest: the contents of a healthy larder and culinarily intelligent recipes

Peter Kaminsky wrote Underground Gourmet for New York magazine for four years, and his Outdoors column appeared in The New York Times for twenty years. He is a longtime contributor to Food & Wine, and the former managing editor of National Lampoon. His books include Pig Perfect: Encounters with Remarkable Swine, The Moon Pulled Up an Acre of Bass, The Elements of Taste (with Gray Kunz), Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way (with Francis Mallmann), Letters to a Young Chef (with Daniel Boulud), Celebrate! (with Sheila Lukins), and John Madden’s Ultimate Tailgating. He is a creator and executive producer of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, on PBS.

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Meet the author on his book tour

From our Q&A with Kaminsky:

Q: What inspired you to write Culinary Intelligence?
A: My life insurance renewal was rejected because I was pre-diabetic. I had to lose weight and keep it off.  Since I happen to make my living writing about food, I had to find a way to take weight off but continue to eat great food and drink good wine (great wine gets a little pricey for my pocketbook). I talked to chefs, nutrition experts, and, of course my mom. Bottom line, within a year I had lost 20 pounds. Six years later the weight has not come back. In fact I lost another 15 which puts me right in the center of the dial for Body Mass Index.  Know what to eat and what not to eat, how often and how much: the basis of Culinary Intelligence. Once you get in the groove, it’s not that hard.

Q: How is Culinary Intelligence different from other books about healthy eating? What new information will readers take away?

A: I wasn’t interested in writing a book that added my voice to those who preach that fast food is bad for you or that Big Agriculture is a problem for the environment. Both true, but we all know that already. One more book on those subjects isn’t going to change your eating habits. My goal has always been to maximize pleasure and satisfaction from food without eating things that challenge my waistline, tax my heart, and clog my arteries. This is not a diet book that starts by making you feel bad so that you eat better. This book is all about pursuing the pleasures of the table on the path to good health.

I don’t count calories, or points. I can barely balance a checkbook, let alone monitor my calorie balance. Instead I rely on the natural sense of taste that all of us are born with. It can guide you to what you ought to eat or avoid. Although being overweight was what impelled me to change my diet, if and when you are at a healthy weight Culinary Intelligence is your best guide to staying at a good weight while eating wholesome and satisfying food.