My good friend and childhood fishing partner, Dave O’Connell, just published his first book:  Potage, A Cook’s Primer. I love the book (and Dave) and want to let all of you out there know about it.

It’s about much more than soup, so please read on.

I had to think about reviewing it in that I have no culinary sensitivity. Tuna Casserole was a highlight at my Mom’s and Sue and I eat pretty basic. My upbringing about food was 8 people vying for the protein at the center of the table and filling in with carbs of various descriptions but mostly potatoes – boiled, mashed, baked, buttered, with parsley and without. Seldom fried and never pureed into a soup.

I also have made it through most of my adult life concentrating on filling the void rather than caring much about what it is filled with. Sad to say, I know.

I did have a number of years taking clients to the best restaurants in NYC and ate fine food on numerous occasions but it was more for show than good taste. Giant steaks at The Palm, delicious food at Joe & Rose’s, Lutece once, a bunch of small country French restaurants on the west side of mid-town, du Midi being my favorite.  I recall loving the bread and pate as well as the snails. Hurley’s and Smith & Wollinski’s were more my speed. Hell, I enjoyed the steam tables at the Blarneystone.

So you see my problem with commenting on fine food, well prepared and cared for.  This is why it has taken me some time to get to this review.  I kept looking for an angle, my angle. I finally came up with it.

I sat down last night and banged the following out, which I am putting on Amazon. BTW, the angle is: IT’S A GOOD BOOK – BUY IT.

(You can listen to a portion of Portage by going to Dave’s website, click the sample audio bar – I think a few minutes will demonstrate that this is no ordinary cookbook.)

More than a book on making soup
More than a book on making soup

Potage, A Cook’s Primer by Dave O’Connell; Published through Createspace; 174 pages; $10.00 paperback; $3.99 Kindle

Available on Amazon.com

Potage? – Isn’t that the act of crossing from one lake to another? No, that’s portage. Potage is about making soup. Potato soup. How could this possibly be of interest to a guy like me? Well, it was.

What you will find in Potage is an interesting read, first and foremost, with a cook book folded in so that even a person who thinks Shake and Bake is a recipe comes to appreciate all that goes into a finely prepared meal. The stories of the chaotic kitchens that enable such careful preparation are thoroughly enjoyable. The neighborhoods (lower Manhattan in the 70’s to the suburbs of Paris and back), the characters, the restaurants, the clientele, all fascinating.

The scene setting narrative and memoir will grab anyone who has ever had to find their way to a career and this book should be required reading for anyone who has even thought about making a reservation in one of the fine restaurants of New York City.

Dave is an intelligent, well read and interesting guy. He weaves so much into each and every chapter that your brain will keep taking side trips as he unfolds his amazing journey – and the soup.

The instruction and recipes are the final reward, the grail at the end of the journey he takes you on.

You have to try this book, even if you have never read a book on cooking before. It will be an eye opening experience.

I’m on my way to the green grocer to inspect the leeks and pick up a few potatoes.

Potage, A Cook’s Primer by Dave O’Connell

Meet my friend Dave
Meet my friend Dave


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