At the core of C.I.’s M.O. are two intrepid observations Kimball has made about the innermost psychology of home cooks. Namely that they 1) are haunted by a fear of humiliation, and 2) will not follow a recipe to the letter, believing that slavishly following directions is an implicit admission that you cannot cook. (When Kimball layed this out for me, I shuddered with recognition.) What the magazine essentially offers its readers is a bargain: if they agree to follow the recipes as written, their cooking will succeed and they will be recognized by family and friends as competent or even expert in the kitchen. To this end, every 32-page issue of the magazine presents a handful of recipes that have been made “bulletproof,” to use a Kimballism, i.e., worried into technical infallibility after weeks of testing so exacting as to bring an average home cook to the brink of neurasthenia.
Christopher Kimball fascinates me. He is so like Steve Jobs. As a source that I could and did trust twelve years ago when I needed to learn the basics of cooking quickly, I forgive him the bow tie. Their online subscription is worth it, btw.