From a sociohistorical analysis of processed foods to memoirs written by some of the biggest names in the food industry, here are five books we've been reading.
'Books' on Serious Eats
Making cocktails is one part creativity, one part knowledge of the classics. And there are a lot of fine tomes out there that detail the cocktail tradition. What books can teach us the most about drinks? We asked 16 bartenders for their favorite cocktail books. Here's what they had to say.
These are books for the kitchen nerd in all of us. The ones who want to know the hows and whys of cooking. The ones who lie restlessly at night, unconsciously kicking their bed mate and thinking, why was my roast chicken dry? What's wrong with beating my batter? And for the love of god and cupcakes, why couldn't I just add all the eggs at once?!?
You've been into making cocktails for awhile now. You've stocked your bookshelves with all the modern classic cocktail manuals, and you're finally ready to dip your toes into the vintage book scene. Where to begin? (Or perhaps, because it's the holiday season, you're shopping for someone who'd love a vintage cocktail book or ten. This guide is for you, too.)
Hey, coffee nerds: Do you always pack a manual coffee grinder and a French press when you go on vacation? Do you find yourself hacking the hotel coffee pot so you can make a superior brew away from home? Then Left Coast Roast by journalist, former barista, and coffee maven Hanna Neuschwander might be just the book for you.
Everybody has opinions about the best cafés and the best coffee roasters, and coffee lovers everywhere insist that their city or their local bean slinger does it best. Thankfully, writer and reformed barista Hanna Neuschwander puts her macchiato where her mouth is with a new book: Left Coast Roast: A Guide to the Best Coffee and Roasters from San Francisco to Seattle.
Some of the books in today's guide offer cocktail recipes, but more importantly, they tell great stories. Every author in today's mix is a great raconteur, each with a unique and fascinating voice. These books scratch the surface of cocktail and drinking history, while exploring imbibing customs both in the United States and around the world.
T. Susan Chang explores the power of food traditions and memories in her new book, A Spoonful of Promises: Stories & Recipes from a Well-Tempered Table. In the memoir, she reflects simultaneously on her childhood and her motherhood. Food is the thread that connects her tumultuous younger years with the joys of raising a new family.
On May 4th, 2011, Prince Charles of Wales gave a speech at the Future of Food Conference at Georgetown University. The speech has since been published into a book—a tiny book, but one chock full of important points about the pitfalls of the industrial food system and ways to address them. The Prince's Speech: On the Future of Food is a handy guide to good talking points about the food system, and manages to be fairly comprehensive given its diminutive size.
If you're a budding beer geek, listen up: you should read this book. Joshua M. Bernstein's Brewed Awakening: Behind the Beers and Brewers Leading the World's Craft Brewing Revolution covers pretty much every current trend in beer and makes the basics pretty fun.
The Hasty Pudding Club is one of Harvard University's oldest social clubs, and for many years Upstairs at the Pudding was the elite restaurant that served the group's students, alumni, and guests. Until its close in 2001, the restaurant embodied elegance with gourmet food, an enchanting hostess, and a little girl who ran around the dining room in party dresses and blond ringlets. That little girl, Charlotte Silver, has written a memoir about her experience as the daughter of the owners of Upstairs at the Pudding. Charlotte au Chocolat: Memories of a Restaurant Girlhood would perhaps make one jealous of all of the delicious food and lively adventures of Charlotte's youth—except for the tinge of melancholy that lingers on every page
In an era when everyone and their brother is logging hours detailing their most recent meals, some food writers are timeless. M.F.K. Fisher has influenced generations of readers with her melodic prose and delectable descriptions of food and eating. Her tumultuous and productive life is chronicled in An Extravagant Hunger: The Passionate Years of M.F.K. Fisher, by writer (and SE contributor!) Anne Zimmerman.
The current resurgence of the back-to-the-land movement has a slightly different twist than the California-based one in the 1970s. The main obstacle facing many would-be farmers is land—which can be expensive. So rather than head to the country to cultivate crops, farmers are breaking ground in the middle of urban areas, where abandoned lots may be anywhere. In their book Breaking Through Concrete: Building an Urban Farm Revival, David Hanson and Edwin Marty show us community garden and farm projects across the country. The beautiful pictures and inspiring tales paint a picture of blooming cities, where food can be grown even in the cracks of sidewalks.
The phenomenons of smell and taste are still subjects of much research by scientists around the world. Neurobiologist Gordon M. Shepard has attempted to make this field accessible to the food-lovers set in his new book, Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters. His takeaway messages are clear, but in between it's easy to get lost in the terminology of this scientific book.
A single chopstick is a very lonely chopstick. How can he dexterously scoop up noodles without his friend? But there comes a point in every chopstick's life when he must quest for personal identity and independence. Chopsticks by Amy Krouse Rosenthal with illustrations by Scott Magoon, is the classic chopstick coming of age tale. Enter to win a copy here.
Most cookbooks provide knowledge formulaically, in columns with neatly organized ingredients and the steps to make a delicious meal. But chef and writer Tamar Adler feels limited by this traditional format. Her new book, An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, combines recipes, stories, and techniques into a running narrative of how to build culinary skills. At first the book confused me with its friendly tone and unique organization, but I came to love Adler's novel approach to sharing her passion for cooking.
If you keep an eye on the news, it's hard to miss that a recent hike in food prices has sparked food riots and increased hunger around the world. From Africa to China to right here in the United States, more people are depending on food donations and government programs to make it through the day. Journalist Alan Bjerga attempts to tackle this enormous issue in his recent book Endless Appetites: How the Commodities Casino Creates Hunger and Unrest.
Nothing makes a better partner for a great cup of coffee than a good book to scan while sipping. Whether you're looking to learn more about the history of that beautiful elixir, or to simply be transported to its tropical habitat (for better or worse), here are five titles that belong on any bean-lover's bookshelf.
Whether you've got a confectionary whiz, amateur ice cream maker, aspiring pastry chef, or pal with a serious sweet tooth on your gift list, we hope this list of 6 of our favorite sweets cookbooks of 2011 will help you find the perfect present.
The hilly terrain of tea writing is fraught with all types of mythology, internet health schemes, ancient rituals, zen meditations, homilies for the lacy doily set, etc. But there's also a ton to learn about tea around the world. We've compiled a short but sweet list of five tea books we like best for their direct delivery of real—and intriguing!—information on all things tea.