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The Dancing Gourmet, Recipes to Keep You on Your Toes!by Linda Hymes photography by Derek Gaffney


Lindergaff Books


157 pages $26.

the dancing-gourmet 

There are a few good cookbooks that provide most of what any aspiring home chef would need to know.

And you could get by on just a basic red wine and a basic white for your table. But wouldn’t life be so much more boring if we didn’t celebrate diversity? With all the cookbooks already in print, does the world need more? Yes, I think so.

Linda Hymes spent a good part of her adult life as a professional ballerina. That’s a world that I know less than nothing about. Yet I found fascinating the background and anecdotes that preface many of her recipes in “The Dancing Gourmet.” Obviously, dancers travel in their work and Hymes was exposed to different cultures. Her exposure to many cuisines gives her inspiration and her education at Le Cordon Bleu in London gives her a credibility that perhaps no other former ballerinas—and few world travelers of any profession—have.

The premise inherent in the title at first seemed a stretch to me and I was poised to dismiss “The Dancing Gourmet” as frivolous and probably targeting way too narrow an audience. That would have been shortsighted. This is not a “diet” cookbook, but the recipes seem both healthy and substantial. They make sense and the photography of many of these dishes (done by husband Derek Gaffney) encourages me to try the recipes.

Pizza Marguerita with capers and red onion is a classic recipe, yet seldom published. Its inclusion is worthwhile on that basis alone, but Hymes’ recollection of encountering pizza-making when performing a Balanchine ballet in Spoleto gives understanding of the dish beyond the usual “ingredients and method.” Insights such as the preface to sea bass wrapped in pancetta, “In ballet, often less is more. Too much effort and the whole picture looks forced, overdone. . . . A dancer must remember equally what not to do. The same is true with fish—keep it simple and don’t overcook it and you’ll never go wrong. . . . ” probably is fair analysis of ballet. It certainly is apt commentary on cooking fish.

“The Dancing Gourmet” is a little offbeat, but it’s worthwhile.


--reviewed by Dan Clarke

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