Jessica Seinfeld has taught me a lot. Not just about cooking, but the effects cooking can have on your body, the foods you eat, and if you were at our lunch, you’d know the result that her incredible pasta dish had on my social life (that’s for you to find out). Fresh off the heels of debuting her new cookbook, “THE CAN’T COOK BOOK: 100+ Recipes for the Absolutely Terrified!”, Seinfeld and I chatted about the process behind her globally acclaimed tome and why, at the end of the day, she owes it all to her mother.
L+T: To me, as someone who doesn’t really excel in this area, your book makes a ton of sense. It’s relatable, it’s easy to understand, and it doesn’t make me scared of the kitchen.
JS: I wrote every word of this book. I put my blood, sweat, and tears into this thing for four years. Luckily, I had some experience, as this is my third book to date.
L+T: What was the first one about?
JS: The first one was about sneaking veggies into kids’ food by boosting nutrition. I did this because I am a vegetable-holic and my kids refused them. So, as a mother, I needed to find a way to infuse vegetables into my kids’ foods. I luckily found a few ways to do so and wanted to share what I had learned. I don’t really shun anything except crappy food, but that’s only because it makes me feel bad.
L+T: When you go to a restaurant, do you find you’re overly critical of the food you’re given? The presentation? The whole experience?
JS: Because I cook at home almost every single night, I don’t love really salty foods. My friends who are chefs are probably really annoyed with me as I find a lot of food served at restaurants is over-salted, for my palette at least. Truth be told, I’m probably a little bit of a nightmare regarding the amount of salt of food in my food. The thing is though, if I do say so myself, once I find a good restaurant that I love, I become obsessed. I’ll bring all my friends and we will order a ton of food and lots of wine. Once I find something, I hold on to it.
L+T: That being said, what are some of your favorite restaurants as of late?
JS: In New York, I love Charlie Bird these days. It’s incredible and that is my obsession right now. Late at night I love Balthazar. It’s really fun. Carbone is the top of my list right now as well. I always love going to Torrisi too.
L+T: You mentioned you cook every day and you love it. You were never afraid of the kitchen?
JS: I learned when I was really little how to handle the kitchen. My mom always worked and would depend of my to get dinner ready for my sisters and my father as she was commuting home. I was always taught from a very young age how to take care of myself. I think it’s so important to have full control over my food – from what goes into it, when to eat it, and how much to spend on it. Growing up I never had any money, and I learned how to be responsible regarding what makes you feel good. For me, physically, take out never made me feel my best. So, I took it into my own hands. It’s a feeling I have, I love being in control of all my life skills.
L+T: I’ve recently learned that the ingredients that I put in my body are integral to my daily functioning.
JS: The older you get, the more you see that what you put into your body will reflect what you get out of it. And since I don’t like feeling like shit, I’m very cautious regarding the things that I eat. Don’t get my wrong, I love French fries and all that stuff too. I’m not a total health freak.
L+T: Why did this book come together?
JS: I was fascinated with the level of fear that so many people in my life have. My husband, who is able to perform in foreign countries in front of 40,000 people and then seeing him in the kitchen is a totally different story. Friends of mine who are performers and actors can put themselves out there in front of an audience every single day but fail on this small level of “cooking” to me was so mesmerizing to me. It’s just one of those things that if you’re not comfortable with it, you fear it. It all has to do with how you grew up and the ‘kitchen environment’ you encountered growing up.
L+T: What was the research like putting this book together?
JS: I did a ton of it and spoke to so many different people about their experiences. It was four years in the making and I find if I’m going to do something, I’m going to put my heart and soul into it. It’s going to have to teach people something or is going to have to mean something. This book is for those who don’t know how to cook or are too scared of it. It’s a starting point. And one that I hope people find beneficial.
The Can’t Cook Book: Recipes for the Absolutely Terrified! by Jessica Seinfeld is available now.