We live in the age of Gastronomy. The golden age for foods from every corner of the world, with every kind of ingredient be it obscure or overused, be it any community or sect who enjoys ‘a’ particular type of food, its all here under spotlight. Being a Foodie is the yuppie equivalent of the culturally superior-sounding “Gourmand”. This movement can be seen in every household too. People have more choices on where to eat out and what cuisine to pick. Even home-style cooking has expanded to include various cuisines from other states or even countries in their daily meals, to suit every mood. Informative and beautifully illustrated cookbooks are a blessing of this food revolution.
Presenting, five of the best books out there, that can be a great addition to your collection to read and learn and expand your culinary horizons, or even to pass on to a loved one who is just trying to make sense of the things in the kitchen, in no particular order.
My mom says that a cook is truly born every time someone learns how to make bread. The bread can be a roti, a pita, a loaf or a baguette, and the process can be as simple as kneading salt, water and flour together or a lengthy, painful process where the dough is carefully mixed with cultures and left to ferment for long hours. Both will produce a satisfying and very distinct piece of bread that can never take the other’s place.
Covering basic science to advanced techniques, this classic by Peter Reinhart will teach you everything you need to know about bread.
Cooking is an art and science. Art concepts might not work if the underlying scientific criterion are not met. Good science makes good food! It is as simple as that. For understanding the science behind our daily cooking processes and how to take the most advantage of them makes this book every cooking nerd’s dream literature. Hailed as ‘The Food Geek’s Bible’ by the Wall Street Journal, it was developed by the Cook’s Illustrated team, USA by boiling down thousands of tests into simple concepts. Read through this book and it can be seen that it will give anyone the confidence and know-how that usually takes years of kitchen experience to acquire.
A perfect present for your child to initiate them into cooking!
#3) The Flavor Bible
When choices are myriad, one tends to follow their instincts to aid their choice-making and when it comes to food, flavor is what one usually goes with. It took 8 years in the making and that kind of research shows in every page making it a great investment. Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg have authored this book which is a revelation of sorts.
When one needs a guide to hundreds of ingredients along with the herbs, the spices and other seasoning that will allow one to coax out the greatest possible flavor and pleasure from them, this is the book.
We Indians love to act as the ultimate authority when it comes to vegetarian cooking. And why would we not? We have different established sects even in vegetarian style of cooking, in the form of Jain Vegetarian, Saatvik vegetarian, Ovo-lacto Vegan, Vegan and so on. But,what happens when one comes across this book? Enlightenment is the word that would come close. Plenty is authored by the famed chef of London and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi.
This one book will expand the ways to cook and prepare vegetables, bringing down those inter-cranial walls that have been cemented on by culture and routines. An eye opener to a world of flavor and variety, lighting up the landscapes in a totally new direction.
How well do you know your curry? The answer would be: not enough. Most of us think we do know our curry but this book is a revelation of sorts. A classic by Lizzie Collingham is a gift to the world of curry. The birth, the childhood, the wandering youth and achievements, its all in here in this book.
Interspersed with classic recipes, memoirs and historic images, this book is truly a biography on Curry, and indeed a great buy for a curry enthusiast.
The wave of food revolution and abundance of information has left us with choices that are overwhelming and the bad ones can obscure the good ones by sheer numbers, yet, there is hope for book-lovers. These five books are not limited to the cuisine of a region or a sect. These are treasures that will be a great gift to yourself or others that will keep on giving long after you have finished reading them. So now that you know which ones give you the most bangs for your buck and match your preferences, which one will it be? Share it with us and feel free to share your own picks.