ON THE DEAN'S LIST:
MY 26th(!!) ANNUAL SURVEY OF FOOD AND DRINK-RELATED BOOKS
SUITABLE AS HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR THE 2022/23 COVID-19 PERIOD
NOVEMBER 14, 2022
By Dean Tudor, T'karonto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) Journalism Professor Emeritus and Gothic Epicures Writing, www.deantudor.com (World Wine Watch Newsletter).
Reviewer Timeline: Cookbook Reviewer, Library Journal, 1969-1974; Cookbook Columnist and Lead Reviewer, The Booklist (American Library Association), 1974-1985; CBRA Cookbook Reviewer, 1975-1985; Freelance Cookbook Reviewer, 1985-1999; Gothic Epicures Writing Lead Cookbook Reviewer, 2000+
These food and wine book reviews are always available at www.deantudor.com and at my blog http://gothicepicures.blogspot.com
There are always many new food and wine books out there for people who have picky tastes!! What to choose? I have cast about for material and have come up with a decent selection of materials published in 2022 to satisfy any pocketbook, any host, and any friend or relative. All books and book-like materials that are listed here are RECOMMENDED for gifting, and can be purchased at a discount via Amazon.Ca, Chapters.Indigo.Ca (with free delivery on a total purchase of over $35 or so), or even The Book Depository in Guernsey UK (free delivery and no GST).
Price Alert: Books are in Canadian dollars, but because of CAD and USD fluctuations, all prices may vary.
Part One: TOP GIFT BOOKS
A. Art/travel/restaurant cookbooks might be some of the best books to give a loved one (or to yourself, since you are your own best loved one). Most may cost you an arm and a leg. Books for the coffee table have their place in the gift scheme: just about every such book is only bought as a gift! And are often perused first by the donor (you). Don't let the prices daunt you. Such books are available at a discount from online vendors. Because of the "economy", not too many pricey food and wine books were released this year. Herewith, and in random order:
--THE MIRACLE OF SALT; recipes and techniques to preserve, ferment, and transform your food (Artisan, 2022, 400 pages, $57 hardbound) is by Naomi Duguid, writer, photographer, traveler and serious home cook. She specializes in nifty regional cookbooks that are also part travelogue (Burma, Taste of Persia), emphasizing flavours and techniques not generally known or used in the Western world. Her Burma and Persia books have won IACP Cookbook Awards for Culinary Travel, and the Persia book went on to garner the 2017 James Beard Award for Best Book of the Year, International. Earlier cookbooks have won Beards. It is beyond the scope of this "gift book" annotation to analyze her wide-ranging Salt book since she covers so much territory in her pursuit of umami, fermentation and preserved flavours. She does tie in recipes, research, storytelling and photography (about half of the photos here are by Duguid, while the others are by Richard Jung) as part of the culinary partnership. Historically she begins with classic fermentation as in sauerkraut, miso, butter, prosciutto, kimchi, pickles, basturma, brined eggs, and salt-preserved lemons. She creates a salt larder with blends of spices and salt, leading on to some salt-preserved flavouring such as soy sauce, fish sauce, pickled plums, salted anchovies, olives, dried shrimp, kimchi, salt pork and salt cod. The pace picks up with the recipes and actual use of salt-altered umami flavours in the prep of veggies, soups, mains, grains, pasta, meats, salads, and desserts, all chosen from global recipes carefully sourced from her travels. She concludes with some interesting material on salt geography and harvesting techniques, followed by an excellent glossary, extensive bibliography, and attractive index. A sure winner by a Canadian author, for Christmas gifting.
--NOMA 2.0: Vegetable, Forest, Ocean (Artisan, 2022, 352 pages, $95 hardbound) is by René Redzepi, Mette Søberg, and Junichi Takahashi. René Redzepi is the chef and co-owner of Noma in Copenhagen, five times recognized as the world's best restaurant. In 2021, Noma got its third Michelin star. His first book, Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine, was an IACP and James Beard Award winner. All three authors are the top culinary team at Noma, developing recipes in the kitchen lab. Indeed, Noma is possibly the world's most influential restaurant. The cookbook is laid out with narrative descriptions for the recipes. Dishes are organized seasonally: there is vegetable (May through August), forest (September through December), and ocean (January through April). Everything here is extremely inventive and extremely creative, and can be replicated with the right ingredients and the right equipment. It's all about stimulating the palate and the eye, with trompe l'oeil and unusual ingredients (e.g. reindeer brain). As the New York Times's Pete Wells wrote in praising Noma's flavours, "Sauces are administered so subtly that you don't notice anything weird going on; you just think you've never tasted anything so extraordinary in your life." There are 200 preps, with gorgeous photography for each plate. It's a very challenging and admirable book, but also a terrific coffee table gift book (it weighs about two kilos) for the armchair chef and traveller. The gift book of the season!
--ASHIA'S TABLE; family recipes from India and beyond (Interlink Books, 2022, 224 pages, $45 hardbound) is by Ashia Ismail Singer, who pays tribute to her heritage with themes on her family's classics and modern spins on today's cuisine. She's got some memoirish material from childhood and multiple food experiences. Her collection emphasizes the culture: sharing platters with family and friends (kebab pastry twists, spinach squares, onion and potato bhajias); light lunches of easy dishes (masala omelet, chili sweetcorn, potato curry); dinner dishes from an everyday meal to an elaborate dinner (chili-crusted baked salmon, chicken biryani, lamb curry, machi fry); side dishes (naan, chutneys, rices, breads); and desserts (carrot halva, sticky date cake, chocolate and cardamom puddings). Well worth looking into. The book could have been improved if it also used more metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Great food photos.
--AEGEAN (Interlink Books, 2022, 224 pages, $35.95 paperbound) is by Marianna Leivaditaki, who was raised on Crete and now is a London UK chef at Morito. Her paean to the Aegean is centred largely on Crete as just one of the many islands that belong to Greece. Other major islands include Rhodes, Karpathos, and Kasos. As the largest and most populous island, Crete has an original cuisine that Leivaditaki delves into. She conveniently divides the book into three: the sea, the land, the mountains, with recipes and personal stories for each. And there are lots of great photos here of prawns with ouzo, orzo and zucchini, tomato and oregano fritters with feta, and the kakavia one-pot fish stew. This is the Mediterranean diet in all of its full-blown glory, with olive oils, fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, whole grains, fish. A delight.
--IN LOVE WITH PARIS; recipes & stories from the most romantic city in the world (Hardie Grant Books, 2021, 176 pages, $25 hardbound) is by Anne-Katrin Weber, a chef, recipe developer and food stylist. It was originally published in Germany earlier in the year, and this is its English language debut. She's also got Julia Hoersch for the recipe photography and Nathalie Geffroy for the Parisian mood photography. The book is about equally split between the recipes and the stories, which makes it a perfect gift for the Paris-lover. There are 50 savoury and sweet preps here, along with culinary walks through the city (and nicely illustrated with photos). It's a good basic books on typically French dishes, with stories behind them: croque madame, coq au vin, madeleines, macarons, romano tartlets, moules marnieres, terrines, oysters au gratin, Parisian onion soup. Ah, the cafe life – right in your kitchen. I've got a friend who swears by its recipe for boeuf bourguignon as the easiest and tastiest that he has ever made.
--SIX CALIFORNIA KITCHENS; a collection of recipes, stories, and cooking lessons from a pioneer of California cuisine (Chronicle Books, 2022, 352 pages, $50 hard bound) is by Sally Schmitt, founder of the French Laundry restaurant of the first to create menus around local and seasonal ingredients – the beginnings of the farm-to-table movement. This is her major work: a narrative cookbook with photos and historic menus for 114 preps that define Northern California cuisine. Her title refers to the six kitchens she has cooked in, including her mother's homestead kitchen, her first cafe kitchen, the Chutney Kitchen, the French Laundry, et al. These include such preps as mustard potatoes, cheese biscuit dough gods, cold cucumber soup with garlic chives and mint, basil eggs, steak a la chicana, bay shrimp and celery with avocado, scallops in tequila lime cream with cilantro gremolata, turnip soup with fresh mustard greens, spicy fig and almond torte, and more. The range is from breakfast to dinner to snacks, from appetizers to desserts, and from many to few eaters. She has a pantry, of course, and it is all laid out for us to read and to use. Good sense, and a great addition to the library of California foods and cooking.
--AMMU; Indian home-cooking to nourish your soul (Interlink Books, 2022, 288 pages, $45 hardbound) is by Asma Khan, owner of London's Darjeeling Express (from supper club to pop-up to restaurant) which re-creates the food of Calcutta via its all-woman kitchen. She's also part of Chef's Table (Netflix). Partially a memoir, this is Indian home cooking at its best. She had previously written "Asma's Indian Kitchen" (2019) as a guide to Indian feasts. But here she celebrates her mother, her Ammu, and the home-style cooking augmented by memories. She opens with some 15 suggested menus (all with page references to the recipes) covering weeknight suppers, vegan meals, dairy-free with meat, pescatarian, brunch, et al. Each has an appetizer, main and sides, and dessert. She opens with comfort foods from childhood, her cooking sessions and lessons with her Ammu, some material on celebrations, and some more material on quick and modern recipes. Many of the comfort foods use slow-cooking, so they are labour-free. Loaded with stories and photos of both people and finished plates. As she says, "This is the food I cook for my family every day, meals to comfort, restore, and nourish."
--THE MODERN TABLE; kosher recipes for everyday gatherings (Figure.1 Publishing, 2022, 192 pages, $40 hardbound) is by Kim Kushner who gives us 75 simple but delicious everyday preps, entertaining ideas, menus – all within the range of kosher cuisine. It's her third kosher cookbook. She re-emphasizes both the seasonal nature of food and the healthy requirement for busy lifestyles. She's got table settings, menus (both formal and informal), floral decorations, and culinary gifts. An all-in-one package. It's all arranged by course: starters, soups, salads, fish, meats, poultry, veggies and other sides, ending with sweets and a metric conversion chart! Some good dishes to try include sesame-scallion salmon cake, sea bass with turmeric and chickpeas, veal milanese with arugula, beef bibimbap, za'tar cauliflower steaks, charred broccoli and garlic, berry frose, and Israeli-style cheesecake. Along the way there are some memoirish materials and matters dealing with the tablescape design of logistics for people.
--SAMBAL SHIOK; the Malaysian cookbook (Hardy Grant Quadrille, 2021, 256 pages, $55 hardbound) is by Mandy Yin, a London UK restaurant owner. Most of the 90-plus preps here came from her mother, but others were developed for her food business. There is a fair bit of material about local culture and the impact of food on its history. As part of the primer for Kuala Lumpur she suggest a pantry-larder for staples plus specific kitchen equipment. She worked early on with street food. Stall-holders are covered in food courts, many with home-style dishes and street foods. Her arrangement is standard: soups, meat, seafood, veggie, savoury snacks, and sweet snacks. "Shiok" means shockingly good, so Sambal Shiok means shockingly good sambal! This is a terrific book, well-illustrated with plated dishes and on-site photos. Try spiced lentil fritters, satay burgers, spiral curry puffs, or peanut gado gado salad, or coconut rice with egg and sambal. All are delicious.
--TASTE TIBET; family recipes from the Himalayas (Interlink Books, 2022, 256 pages, $45 hardbound) is by Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa, co-owners of Taste Tibet restaurant and festival food stall in Oxford, UK. Yeshi specializes in soups and stir-fries -- also, the book shows that there is more to food in Tibet than momos (although there are eight recipes for momos and a lively discussion of their impact). As is typical with other Interlink food books, stress is on both the country's cuisine and cultural history, along with stories and photos of the region. There are over 80 preps here for the family's home cook. Background material covers the nomadic Himalayan food culture of the Tibetan Plateau; there is also a wealth of detail about the relationship between the environment and local diets. Chapters include such as street food faves, food as medicine, mindful eating, breakfast, cold dishes, and a glossary of ingredients, along with a pronunciation guide. A very well-put together package.
--TASTING GEORGIA; a food and wine journey in the Caucasus (Interlink Books, 2017, 2021, 464 pages, ISBN 978-1-62371-8427-8 $28.95 USD softbound) is by Carla Capalbo, born in NYC, and now working as a freelance food journalist and photographer. This is an updated revised edition making its paperbound debut. She's written 14 books on the culture of producing food and wine, winning awards such as the Andre Simon for "Collio" as best wine book. Her photos of Georgia have won an IACP award. Here she gives us, by the numbers: 70 recipes, 60 restaurants and wine bars, 40 family wineries, 10 regional maps, and 390 original photographs, many of which detail farmers markets and family cooks. She's got top log rolling from Redzepi (noma), Ottolenghi, and Petrini (founder of Slow Food). Georgia lies between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea. It is one of the world's oldest winemaking areas, with wines made traditionally in clay qvevri buried in the ground, and searched for by lovers of natural wine. After the section on wine comes the food, beginning with the "supra" buffet-banquet-sharing feast and the elements of Georgian cuisine. Ingredients include ajika (capsicum paste), lobio beans, guda (sheep's cheese), tenili cheese, freshwater fish, gozinaki (honey and walnuts at New Year), jonjoli, khinkali dumplings, matsoni fermented milk, and lots more. There are only a few holiday recipes for sweets. Most dinners end with fresh fruit, nuts, or fruit leather. Preps have English and Georgian titles as well as scrips. Recipes have been edited for home cooks or otherwise simplified with substitutions. Metric and avoirdupois weights and measures co-exist in the preps. There is an impressive listing of sources and travel information, along with websites. The almost 40 page index includes a recipe planner for creating meals, a listing of the various foods by product, a listing of the restaurants and wine bars cited, an index to the wine, plus an index to the 12 regions of Georgia. And of course, there are are recipes by English title. A good book for armchair travellers, cooks, and culinary historians. Try the eggplant rolls; lobio beans stewed with herbs; beef and chickpea stew; beets with spiced walnut paste; chicken with nut sauce; corn meal with cheese; fermented cabbage and beets; mulberry and goat cheese salad; noodle and yogurt soup; and stewed nettles.
--GRAINS FOR EVERY SEASON; rethinking our way with grains (Artisan, 2021, 368 pages, $55 hardbound) could easily have been titled "Grains for Every Reason" since it has so many adaptable features in the recipes for eating whole grains anytime. The authors are Joshua McFadden, a Beard winner, and Martha Holmberg. This is about cooking and consuming gluten grains such as barley, wheat, rye, farro, freekeh and gluten-free grains such as brown rice, millet, corn, oat, buckwheat, teff, amaranth, quinoa – and even mixing the two categories together. Try Quinoa and Watermelon Salad with Pistachios and Spicy Pickled Peppers or Lamb and Bulgur Meatballs in Lemony Yogurt Sauce. Crispy Quinoa "Tempura" for Vegetables is a good example of blending rice, quinoa, and wheat. Well worth a look.
B. And how about gift books for the beverage drinker? Try –
--FOOT TRODDEN; Portugal and the Wines That Time Forgot ( Interlink Books, 2021, 257 pages, $45 hardbound) is by Simon J Woolf and Ryan Opaz, and was originally published in the Netherlands. Iy's a very comprehensive book on the current day Portuguese wines, as told through the personal histories of its winemakers and growers. Covered are materials dealing with both old and new winemaking techniques. There are a ton of indigenous grape varieties that seldom make it out of Portugal. There is a lot of detail and depth here. Foot treading is still popular, in a traditional sense, as the winemakers deal with varying harvests and vintages of some 250 local grape varieties. The most popular varieties appear to be the whites Encruzado, Arinto dos Acores, Alvarinho and Fernao Pires, and the reds Ramisco, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, and Baga. Nominated for many wine book awards (Andre Simon, James Beard Awards) and also chosen as the NEW YORK TIMES BEST WINE BOOK OF 2021.
--WINE : a tasting course, from grape to glass (DK Books, 2013, 2021, 256 pages, $32 hardbound) is by Marnie Old. It was originally published in 2013; this is the updated and revised text. It's a fairly comprehensive and no-nonsense wine tasting course that covers every aspect of wine from grape to glass. Nuances are stressed through the tasting and appreciation process. Themed tasting exercises are located throughout the book, encouraging readers to learn at their own pace. All the while, there are copious notes on food and wine pairing, identifying the style spectrum, and distinguishing taste and smell. Old explores fun wine facts and explodes myths, giving you everything you need to talk, taste and enjoy your favorite vintage.
--SPARKLING WINE FOR MODERN TIMES: a drinker's guide to the freewheeling world of bubbles (Ten Speed Press, 2021, 192 pages, $26 hardbound) is by Zachary Sussman. This is a definitive guide to sparkling wine today, complete with profiles of leading producers, production methods, bottle recommendations, colourful infographics, and illustrated guides. Sussman considers sparkling wine traditions and offerings from around the world. This approachable book explores fascination with sparkling wine and places each regional expression within the range from the radical grower revolution reshaping the highly conservative area of Champagne to Prosecco's overnight transformation into a multi-million-dollar brand to the retro appeal of natural wine's cult-hit "pétillant naturel" to the next generation of "real wines" from Lambrusco, and beyond. The book covers the essential information for each growing region and highlights up-and-coming areas such as Jura in France, the traditional-method Sicilian sparklers and Californian "orange" pét-nat.
--CHEESE, WINE, AND BREAD: discovering the magic of fermentation in England, Italy, and France (William Morrow, 2021, 373 pages, $37 hardbound) is by Katie Quinn who spent time in England at Neal's Yard Dairy, in France with bread at Poilane's in Paris, and in Northeast Italy with winemakers Commellis. These simple staples of a great meal (bread, cheese, and wine) develop their complex flavors through a process known as fermentation. Katie Quinn spent months as an apprentice with some of Europe's experts to study the art and science of fermentation. Visiting grain fields, vineyards, and dairies, she brings the stories and science of these foods to the table, explains the process of each craft, and introduces the people behind them. A really good read, full of insights into the fermentation processes.
--3 INGREDIENT COCKTAILS; 60 drinks made in minutes (Hardie Grant Books, 2021, 160 pages, $21 hardbound) is by Kate Calder who believes that the secret of a classic cocktail is simplicity. The fewer the flavours, the better. Everything is arranged by spirit, beginning with vodka, followed by gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, and "sparkling". Each has a series of snacks (about a half dozen each) to go with the drinks. Thus, gin needs sweet potato bites, chorizo, spicy mayo, baked ricotta with honey, rosemary-parmesan walnuts, et al. Typical gin includes gimplet, pink lady, negroni, dirty martini, gin rickey, et al.
Great fun, especially the snacks, and a boon to the beginning cocktail drinker. Good value book too.
--JUST A SPRITZ: 57 simple sparkling sips with low to no alcohol (Artisan, 2022, 176 pages, $25 hardbound) is by Danielle Centoni, with Eric Medsker as photographer. The Italian export, the Aperol spritz, with its classic (and simple) makeup of fizzy prosecco, sparkling water, and a splash of the bittersweet, citrus-flavored liqueur, is just the beginning. In Just a Spritz, Danielle Centoni shares a world of spritz variations. Add in sweet liqueurs and bitter amari, fresh juices, flavored kombuchas, and drinking vinegars to update the sparkling spritz. A spritz is quick to assemble and does not require a stocked pantry. Here there are more than 50 recipes (and numerous variations) organized by flavor profile and theme, including the Raspberry Beret, the Margarita Spritz, and the Cucumberbatch, as well as nonalcoholic spritz drinks. For a spritz newbie, a classic Negroni Sbagliato may be just the thing. Or the fruity-floral, scarlet-purple, picture-perfect Lady Lavender. Whatever the craving, from a sweet peach spritz to a slightly bitter and citric Cappelletti Shandy, there's a recipe to satisfy every thirst, along with colourful photos. Remember, these are all LO-AL or NO-AL concoctions.
--WINE STYLE; discover the wines you will love through 50 simple recipes (Ten Speed Press, 2021, 176 pages, $28 hardbound) is by Kate Leahy with photography by Eric Scott. This is a quick, casual read covering the essential varieties that wine lovers need to know, and featuring more than 50 food preps for all manner of potential pairings. There are no rules here (especially none of the old-fashioned ones, like "seafood should always be paired with white"), but there are opportunities for exploring styles of wine such as dessert wines or orange wines – with food. Typical are baked lemony feta with a crisp white wine, or caramelized cabbage and onion galette with a serious red, or smoked salmon spaghetti with sparkling wine, et al.
--WHISKY: the manual: 102 whiskies, 5 ways (Ilex Press, an imprint of Octopus Publishing Group Ltd., 2014, 2022, 224 pages, $ 22 hardbound) is by Dave Broom who had previously published the book in 2014. It's full of practical and fascinating information about how to enjoy whisky. All whisky styles are covered, including blends. Along the way a good few myths are exploded, including the idea that whisky has to be taken neat. In 'What to Drink', the author explores flavour camps - how to understand a style of whisky and then moves on to provide extensive tasting notes of the major brands, demonstrating whisky's diversity. In 'How to Drink', he sets out how to enjoy whisky in many ways - using water and mixers, from soda to green tea; and in cocktails, from the Manhattan to the Rusty Nail. There is also pairing whisky with food. Coloured illustrations too.
C.Perhaps some food and drink REFERENCE books? Such as:
--JAPANESE CUISINE; an illustrated guide (Firefly Books, 2021, 128 pages, $19.95 softbound) is by Laurie Kie and Haruna Kishi. Kie has written many other Japanese cookbooks; Kishi is a Japanese illustrator. This little nifty reference work contains many recipes, anecdotes, histories, stories, maps, techniques, stylings, utiensils, native ingredients – all wonderfully illustrated with watercoloured drawings. It can answer many questions: how to make sushi, miso soup, bento boxes; how to use Japanese knives, chopsticks, cooking vessels, seaweed. There is a special section on ramen and its many distinctive regional variations. Very lovingly produced, right down to the Japanese pictographs.
--CHEESE, ILLUSTRATED; notes, pairings and boards (Chronicle Books, 2021, 144 pages, $28.95 hard bound) is by cheesemaker-cheesemonger Rory Stamp. He's got 50 of the more popular or accessible European and North American cheese, with notes on pairings and tastings. There are 15 cheese board suggestions. Popular cheeses include Cheddar, Brie, Gruyere, Roquefort, Epoisses, Parmigiano Reggiano, Emmanthaler, et al. The main cheese boards are by country: France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain/Portugal, British Isles, and North America, plus four entitled "Boards without Borders". That allows him to present some mountain cheeses and some dessert cheeses. Another good idea book, with lots of concise data.
--BAGELS, SCHMEARS, AND A NICE PIECE OF FISH; a whole brunch of recipes to make at home (Chronicle Books, 2022, 208 pages, $36 hardbound) is by Cathy Barrow, an award-winning creator of many other cookbooks and food article writer. Here, in about 90 pages, she runs through the home bagel-making process. This is followed by 50 pages of schmears, both savoury and sweet, and concludes with a variety of fish. Other faves include her takes on salads, pickles and ferments, bagel sandwiches with salads, and a bunch of menus. Her homemade bagels mostly replicate the New York City style, but she also does cover the Montreal bagel, the Pumpernickel bagel, and a variety of others such as the Jerusalem bagel, the Turkish simit, the Flagel (flattened bagel), the Pletzel, the Bialy, plus a lot of sweet bagels. The highlight of the book is actually the 18 or so schmears plus variations, and this is very easy to do at home. In fact, you can, of course, buy your own bagels and fish, but make your own schmears for an innovative brunch. Eggs, chickens, and vegan options can easily replace fish. A good, single purpose book.
--GENNARO'S LIMONI; vibrant Italian recipes for celebrating the lemon (Interlink Books, 2021, 192 pages, $45 hardbound) is by Gennaro Contaldo, best known as Jamie Oliver`s teacher in Italian cooking. He has been chef at many London restaurants before opening his own, Passione. He's written four major books on Italian food, appeared everywhere with his TV series, teaching masterclases, and writing magazine articles. Here he promotes the multi-purpose lemon which can refresh, brighten, cut through a rich dish, preserve, and even cook (through acidifying). Contaldo grew up with lemons in his native Amalfi Coast. Lemons are used everywhere, in virtually every dish. The flesh, pith and skin are chopped into salads. The zest can, well, add zest to any dish. Its leaves (if you have them) are used to wrap fish, meat, and cheese. But I did not see any references to seeds, nor to special types of lemons such as Meyers or Menton. There are about 100 preps, all arranged by ingredient, but starting with small plates, moving on to veggies, fish, meat, and desserts. The last thirty pages deal with drinks, preserves, sauces and dressings. There's a short history of the lemon , followed by uses for lemons outside the kitchen. He starts off with the absolutely brilliant but simple fennel and apple salad with a warm citrus ragu, followed by a pizza al limone with sausage, mozzarella and arugula. There's also rabbit baked in lemon leaves and a "marmellata di limoni" that is simple to prepare. There are some pasta dishes such as farfalle with capers and lemon or linguine with lemon and eggplant pesto. In addition to avoirdupois and metric weights there are avoirdupois volume measurements. There is excellent complementary photography by David Loftus.
--LET'S EAT ITALY! Everything you want to know about your favorite cuisine (Artisan, 2021, 400 pages, $75 hardbound) is by Francois-Regis Gaudry "and friends" . It follows up on his successful "Let's Eat France" . This current book was written in French and published in France in 2020. It weighs about 5.5 pounds and measures 13.5 inches by 10 inches. It IS a coffee table book without the table. Just add legs. OK: the specs – 295 topics, 1221 specialty foods, 244 iconic recipes, hundreds of profiles of Italian food icons, historical anecdotes, cultural references, illustrated step-by-step instructions for preparing the classics of risotto, gnocchi, and pizza dough (among others). The book thus covers 130 different styles of fresh pasta (including 20 different styles of stuffed pastas), dozens of salumi, dozens of olives, breads, cheeses, and even different regional styles of breakfasts. A reference book for the foodie.
--GASTRO OBSCURA; a food adventurer's guide (Workman Publishing, 2021, 440 pages, $55 hardbound) has been pulled together by a food crew headed by Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras. It's part of the Atlas Obscura family, a firm which seeks out the weird/wonderful delights of the world. With Gastro Obscura, it is the weird/wonderful food and drink of the world. Not everything here is "edible" for humans, but it is food for other living things. Curious people can explore what food and drink reveal about the places where they're made and the people who make them. Typical are a beer made from fog in Chile, threads of God in Sardinian pasta, histories of food conventions such as the Roman fish sauce factories, rice puddings, tea-houses. The arrangement is by continent, with Europe up first. Canada gets 26 pages, sub-arranged (like the other countries) by regions. There are lots of cultural bits about the Atlantic provinces, such as rappie pie (NS), seal flipper pie (NL), screech and iceberg ice (NL), cod tongues (NL) but only Thrills and bagged milk from Ontario. Illustrations include photos, food product adverts, action shots, and finished plates. This is a great reference book, created to be read over and over again. Hugely addictive.
--DISTILLED: a natural history of spirits (Yale University Press, 2022, 328 pages, $40 hardbound) is by Rob DeSalle and Ian Tattersall, with illustrations by Patricia Wynne. It's a natural history survey of the wide world of spirits, from whiskey and gin to grappa and moonshine et al. In this follow-up book to A Natural History of Wine and A Natural History of Beer, authors DeSalle and Tattersall yet again use alcoholic beverages as a lens through which to gain a greater appreciation of natural history. This volume considers highly alcoholic spirits in the context of evolution, ecology, history, primatology, molecular biology, physiology, neurobiology, chemistry, and even astrophysics. With the help of Wynne, DeSalle and Tattersall address historical and cultural aspects and ingredients, the distillation process, and spirits and their effects. Some of their colleagues also contribute chapters on brandy, vodka, tequila, whiskies, gin, rum, eaux-de-vie, schnapps, baiju, grappa, ouzo, and cachaça. Covering beverages from across the globe and including descriptions of the experience of tasting each drink, the authors offer a comprehensive exploration of the scientific dimensions of spirits.
D.For the more literate person, there are the histories, anthologies, "memoirs", polemics and humour of writers, chefs, and wine people. Some have called these memoirs "creative non-fiction", some with embellishments and gilding. And many of them may suffer from a lack of indexing, which makes it difficult to find what the writer said about another person or subject. But this also avoids the potential for lawsuits and disjointed noses. Nevertheless, they are rewarding to read. Who cares about poetic license? Here then are some that stood out from this year's run, and any of them would make great gifts for the reader. Here we go, in no particular order…
--CASSOULET CONFESSIONS; food, France, family, and the stew that saved my soul (Hardie Grant, 2022, 154 pages, $35.99 hardbound) is by Sylvie Bigar, a Swiss-French food and travel writer based in New York City. She took her magazine story idea and polished it up to this book. It's about Occitanie in south France, situated between Spain and Provence, and is centred around the ancient language and the cassoulet. It became a culinary obsession with her. She portrays the history of the dish and the various preparations, and of course the locals involved in the development of cassoulet and its many forms.he finishes with six recipes: the first three take about 3 days each, the fourth takes two days, the fifth takes 10 hours (and is a cholent), and the sixth takes 2.5 hours. A very well-written book about her search for cassoulet and for her family identity.
--GOOD ENOUGH; a cookbook embracing the joys of imperfection & practicing self-care in the kitchen (Workman, 2022, 298 pages, $24.95 paperbound) is by Leanne Brown, author of GOOD AND CHEAP, a bestseller cookbook. It's a mix of personal essays, stories, and about 100 recipes: "this book is about the joys of imperfection". She believes that cooking can be a healing process, acknowledging fears and anxieties as well as letting them go, slowing down, and the sensory experience of creating meals to feed yourself and family. She stresses the importance of self-care and self-nourishment by proposing a gateway to calm cooking, beginning with the pantry and the mise-en-place in the "good enough preparation". Chapters deal with mornings, midday, weeknights, fun, and "good enough for others". Her end notes deal with leftovers, with an invitation to observe what happens to food the next day. Typical preps for weeknights involve weeknight farro casserole; fast white bean, chorizo, and hearty greens stew; leek and squash risotto with goat cheese and honey; bacon and kale risotto with fried eggs; saucy spiced chicken; and summer burgers. Try also spicy ginger-honey blondies or baklava granola or banana and date and cashew muffins. Ingredients are listed in American avoirdupois units, but there are two pages of conversions tables for the metric-inclined. One of her best concepts is the TL;DR ("too long; didn't read") which is useful for those longer recipes. In her case, she summarizes many of them by using a TL;DR headnote and 25 words or so. Cooking does not need to be depressing.
--IMPERIAL WINE; how the British Empire made wine's new world (University of California Press, 323 pages, $43.85 CAD hardbound) is by Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre, an historian at Trinity College in Connecticut. It's full of good material, concentrating on the development of the wine industries in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. She argues that today's global wine industry exists as a result of settler colonialism and that imperialism was central, not incidental, to viticulture in the British colonies. For the large part, the wines were ignored by the landed gentry in the UK. They failed to match up with wines from France, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Italy. Plus they had a long transport from their origins. Canadian wineries are not covered or even mentioned, which is just as well – because the only wines available from Canada were made from labrusca or hybrids. It was only after World War I that "colonial" wines became popular, and that was mainly because they were "patriotic" wines and plentiful if not cheap because of preferential import tariffs. An excellent read, well-researched.
--JAZZ AGE COCKTAILS; history, lore and recipes from America's roaring twenties (Washington Mews Books, New York University Press, 2021, 159 pages, $25.95 hardbound) is by Cecelia Tighi who teaches American studies at Vanderbilt University. It is a short history of how the US Prohibition law of 1920 forced alcohol to be savoured in secret, and made all the more delectable when the cocktail shaker was forced to go underground. She takes a trip through the cocktail creations of the early twentieth century, letting readers into the glitz and (illicit) glamour of the 1920s. She dazzles with tales of temptation and temperance, and features about 70 cocktail recipes from the time to be recreated and enjoyed (The Bee's Knees, the Alexander, the Boulevardiere, Champagne Julep, The Cat's Pajamas, The Flapper, et al).
--EPISTENOLOGY; wine as experience (Columbia University Press, 2020, 216 pages, $33 paperback ) is by Nicola Perullo who argues that wine comes to life not in the abstract space of the professional tasting but in the real world of shared experiences. Wines can change in these encounters, and drinkers along with them. Just as a winemaker is not simply a producer but a nurturer, a wine is fully known only through an encounter among a group of drinkers in a specific place and time. Wine is not an object to analyze but an experience to make, creatively opening up new perceptual possibilities for settings, cuisines, and companions. The result of more than twenty years of research and practical engagement, Epistenology presents a new paradigm for the enjoyment of wine and through it a philosophy based on participatory and relational knowledge. Interweaving philosophical arguments with personal reflections and literary examples, this book is a journey with wine that shows how it makes life more creative. A thoughtful read.
--EAT, DRINK, THINK: what ancient Greece can tell us about food and wine (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020, 192 pages, $47.50 paperback) is by David Roochnik, who examines the role that foods play in the shaping of humanity – such as the sharing of a good meal with friends and family and being just a necessity. He discusses classical works of Greek literature and philosophy in which food and drink play an important role. With thoughts on Homer's The Odyssey, Euripides' Bacchae, Plato's philosopher kings and Dionysian intoxication, Roochnik shows how foregrounding food in philosophy can open up new ways of understanding these thinkers and their approaches to the purpose and meaning of life. A very useful contribution to food studies, and very thought provoking as well.
Part Two: STOCKING STUFFERS
Stocking stuffers should be at the very top of everybody's gift list: something affordable from under $10 up to $25 or so, and that can also double as a host gift, being something small and lightweight. And of course, they can all stuff an adult stocking.
Typical for food are:
--FIRE AND SLICE: Deliciously simple recipes for your home pizza oven (Ryland Peters & Small, 2022, 128pages, $19.99 hardcover) is one of a publisher's series with previously issued recipes by a wide assortment of cookbook writers. This book is a bible designed for your home pizza oven There are tips and tricks for making the most of your appliance and producing perfect pizzas. You will find guides to making bases and sauces, and recipes that embrace the simplicity of classic pizza. For special occasions, there are more complex options like Pear, Pecorino and Taleggio Pizza with Honey and Sage, or Pizza Picante, plus focaccia recipes.
--THE CHICKEN SHACK: Over 65 cluckin' good recipes that showcase the best ways to enjoy chicken (Ryland Peters & Small, 2022, 144 pages $27.99 hardcover) has a variety of quick and easy preps for all tastes and occasions. Entertaining a crowd? Try Garlic Butter Roast Chicken, or an appetizer of Chicken Caesar Sliders Wrapped in Parma Ham. Looking for some dishes for the family? Try Grilled Chicken Burgers, Chicken Quesadillas, or Spanish-Style Chicken & Rice. In search of something comforting after a long day? Opt for Chicken Noodle Soup, or Extra-Crunchy Crumbed Wings. Hot and spicy? Then Red Hot Buffalo Wings and Jerk Chicken may be what you need.
--FESTIVE COCKTAILS & CANAPES: Over 100 recipes for seasonal drinks & party bites (Ryland Peters & Small, 2022, 160 pages, $19.99 hardcover) has this collection of drinks and dishes to guide you through Advent right up to the New Year. You'll find everything you need to host a group, with recipes for everything from a light Christmas morning brunch to a New Years Eve Soirée. Cocktails range from the Snowball to the Mimosa, with more unusual recipes to make your drinks very merry indeed. Simple recipes for bites and canapés, many of which can be prepared in advance, take the stress out of finding the perfect snack to accompany drinks and satisfy hungry guests: Slow Roasted Tomato Galette with Black Olive Tapenade & Goat's Cheese, Sesame Maple Turkey Fingers, or a Trio of Honey Baked Camembert With Calvados & Herbs. With recipes for dessert canapés and syrupy cocktails to sweeten up occasions, this book is stress-free.
--THE ASIAN KITCHEN: 65 recipes for popular dishes, from dumplings and noodle soups to stir-fries and rice bowls (Ryland Peters & Small, 2022, 144 pages, $19.99 hardcover) presents the fresh, tasty, and lively flavors of fthe ood of South East and East Asia. The cuisine has never been more popular and is showcased here in 65 delicious recipes, bursting with nutritious ingredients. This is umami-rich food: Japanese miso or soy sauce, spiked with layers of aromatic Indian spices, or stuffed with fragrant Thai herbs, chile, and garlic. This collection of aromatic and sizzling hot recipes is a must for any lover of adventurous food, for appetizers and fingerfoods, for sharing with drinks, or speedy weekday dishes. Try Spiced Fishcakes from Thailand; Vietnamese Summer Rolls; or a spicy Indonesian Fiery Beef Satay. Quick and easy recipes for soups and noodle bowls include Sunshine Laksa or a Chicken Pad Thai. For an even more substantial meal, try a Thai Green Cauli Curry, Sweet & Sour Orange Chicken; or Citrus Ahi Tuna with Yuhu Dipping Sauce. Asian food is the modern way to eat well every day.
Other little books (and calendars), for beverages, include those on beer, wine and spirits:
--ART BOOZEL; cocktails inspired by modern and contemporary artists (Chronicle Books, 2021, 144 pages, $27.95 hard bound) is by Jennifer Croll, with illustrations by Kelly Shami. There's a couple of pages devoted to each artist (Banksy, Warhol, Picasso, Kahlo, O'Keefe, Hockney, et al-- about 60 in all) deftly illustrated and accompanied by a recipe for a cocktail expressive of that artist. There is the Yoko Ono built upon gin, Lillet Blanc, apricot brandy, grapefruit juice and grapefruit bitters. Or perhaps the Robert Maplethorpe with bourbon, lemon juice, hickory smoke, vermouth, bitters, salt and pepper. It is a good idea for a book, and we can all have fun trying the cocktails, and maybe seeing if there is a chance to mix and match.
--SUMMER FIZZ: Over 100 recipes for refreshing sparkling drinks (Ryland Peters & Small, 2022, 144 pages, $23 hardcover), for when the days are rosy and long, fresh tart and tangy. Here's an array of tasty fizzy tipples useful for every summer occasion. If you're in the mood for dining al fresco, rustle up a French 75 or minty Mojito for one to start the evening. And when the weekends play host to a livelier gathering, prepare a pitcher of sparkling Cava Sangria to share, or cool off with a Berry Collins or a Strawberry and Ginger Mule. Whether you need a cocktail to impress or a mocktail to refresh, this collection is sure to be a winner.
--WINE PAIRING PARTY; 16 wine profiles 80 perfect food pairings. (Chronicle Books, 2022, 160 pages, $28.95 hard bound) is by Liz Rubin. It is a great collection of folded pages, one for each wine, giving some blanket data and pairings. For Champagne, we are to look for citrus pith and red fruit. The food pairing here centres around fatty cheeses, cured meats, fried chicken, and sushi. She's also got a menu for New Year's Eve, with Brillat-Savarin, dried fruit, baguette, and a bottle of non-vintage Blanc de Blancs. There are other sections on prosecco and pet-nat sparklers. Good fun in a book priced under $30.
--HUGH JOHNSON'S POCKET WINE BOOK 2023 (Mitchell Beazley, 2022, 336 pages, $20 hardbound, $9.99 Kindle ebook) is a guide to wines from all around the world, not just to the "best" wines. His co-author is Margaret Rand, who has taken over the book as Johnson has now retired.. It is in its 46th year (first published in 1977). Johnson claims more than 6000 wines and growers are listed. News, vintage charts and data, glossaries, best value wines, and what to drink now are here. His book is arranged by region, with notes on the 2021 vintage and a few details about the potential of 2022, along with a closer look at the 2020. He's got notes on what wines are ready to drink in 2023. There's a new colour supplement with shots and notes on how wine ages. The book has also moved into food pairing: there is a section on food and wine matching. He also has a listing of his personal 200 fave wines. The Kindle edition is digitally enhanced for word searching, so it often beats a printed index for retrieving data – and it is $10 cheaper! Either print or digital is a great purchase....
--A YEAR OF GOOD BEER 2023 PAGE-A-DAY CALENDAR (Workman, 2022, 320 pages, $22.99)
quenches the beer lover's thirst: microbrewery recommendations, beer lore, trivia, history, labels, vocabulary, tasting notes, beer festivals, and more daily fun. America's bestselling beer calendar—now with 1.5 million copies in print—has a year of recommendations for every season and occasion.
Crack open Sierra Nevada's easy drinking Wild Little Thing Slightly Sour Ale, with aromas of guava, hibiscus, and strawberry combining for a nicely balanced tartness. Or the Schlenkerla Oak Smoked Doppelbock, boasting a smooth smokiness and multilayered malt intensity. Plus craft ingredients and hops, beer trivia quizzes, food pairings, proper glassware for beer styles, destination beer tours. Some of the beers appear as imports in Canada, but otherwise there are few Canadian brews included. Lights, wheat, lagers, ales, porters, session beers, stouts, seasonal beers, and lambrics – they're all here, 165 or so craft beers. If you buy any of the PAD calendars, then you can go online to the website and pick up other, free stuff, at www.pageaday.com