I'd like to start by saying that I quite hope that I didn't make Brett as nervous as he implied. Interestingly enough, it was actually the first time he had ever cooked for me. I have to say that I was impressed. He cooked a stellar meal, managed to show me a good time and Wooster and really introduced me to the greatness that sage would help a meal attain. Thank you, Brett. Aces all the way. Let's do it again soon.
Yes, I know, I already spoke of Michael Ruhlman. So why, then, am I revisiting him so soon? The answer? I just picked up a copy of The Elements of Cooking. I'm not exaggerating when I say that Mr. Ruhlman ignites my passion for cooking more than any chef out there. Period.
The Elements of Cooking is important in exactly the same way as Ratio. Ruhlman doesn't give you the blueprints to a great meal. A step by step guide full of recipes ensured to "Feed Friends and Satiate People" this most certainly is not. It's a foundation on which incredible things can be built. Without that foundation, nothing will stand.
Naturally, Ruhlman covers everything in this book. Stocks? Check. Eggs? Check. Cookware? Check. Salt? Check. Wait, salt? What needs to be said about salt? A lot. If I didn't already love Michael Ruhlman, his writings on salt would have made me. I feel vindicated by what he wrote, that, as Thomas Keller said, salting is the most important skill for a cook to have. I am glad to say that I actually realized this years ago. Undersalted food is bland, no matter how many other spices are included, and oversalted food can be inedible. Sorry is the cook that doesn't recognize the importance of using salt properly.
Anyhow, I HIGHLY recommend this book. No matter whether you're an old hand or just delving into the world of cooking. Proper mastery of the basics is essential to attaining any level of culinary success.