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The Pollans

by Joseph Montebello

When one lays eyes on these four striking women, lithe, and fashionably dressed one expects they are headed for strutting on a runaway or perhaps the members of a very glamorous girl singing group. In actuality they are the Pollan woman: Corky, the matriarch and her three daughters, Lori, Dana, and Tracy. The women are on the road to promote their new cookbook The Pollan Family Table. Separately they are all talented and accomplished; together they are a force to be reckoned with.

Corky looks like her daughters’ older sister. Trim and ebullient, it’s easy to see where the others get their looks and personality. Those old enough to remember New York Magazine in its heyday, will recall reading her groundbreaking column “Best Bets.” Lori and Dana have both focused their careers on health, wellness and fitness. Together they founded the Pollan-Austen Fitness Center. Tracy has acted in film, television and on the Broadway stage, is on the board of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

So why the book?

“Our family loves to cook,” said Lori Pollan, “and we were always calling each other for ideas. So we decided to put together a cookbook of all our favorite recipes.” Many of the recipes came from Corky Pollan or from her mother.

“Back then my mother didn’t use recipes,” she explained. “It was ‘a pinch of this, a little of that’ so we had to interpret and try to be more specific about the amount to use. And so much has changed in how we cook. Less cream, butter – a much more healthy approach to eating.” To refelect the current philosophy of eating, the recipes are healthy and encourage the use of fresh produce and support of local farms whenever possible.

The Pollan Family Table is as much a celebration of a family as it is a cookbook. Lavishly illustrated with full-color photographs of not only the food but members of the family playing, eating, and cooking.

“Everyone in our family loves to cook,” said Tracy, “so it’s not uncommon for all of us to be preparing a meal together. And even the kids contribute,” chimed in Lori. “They start by peeling carrots and work their way up to cooking.”

Family and food are the key ingredients. While all the Pollans have their own families and houses, it is at their parents’ home where they all come together for holidays and special occasions. Corky was determined that everyone eats together, no “kids table” for her. So, as the family grew, the table kept extending with additional leaves. Finally, when the table got too big for the room, she simply knocked out a wall and extended the room.

The only sibling missing from the arduous task of creating a cookbook was Michael, who, in his own right, is an award-winning author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and an expert on food and agriculture.

“When we told Michael we wanted to write a cookbook,” said Tracy, “he was all for it and was a great sounding board and offered to write the foreword.

And speaking of the writing, to read it is to have one or all of the Pollan women in the kitchen with you. The text is crisp, clear and easy to follow. One very sensible and timely tip (and one I never thought of) is instead of writing out a grocery list, simply take a photo of the list of ingredients with your iPhone and off to the store you go.

The world doesn’t really need another cookbook, but read The Pollan Family Table not only for recipes and cooking tips, but to experience how important food and family can be – especially if you emulate the Pollans.