Cookbooks To Curl Up With

 

We buy cookbooks for the recipes, to give us inspiration in the kitchen, but also, sometimes a cookbook is more than just beautiful pictures and delicious dishes. When is the last time you actually read the cookbooks in your collection? They are a treasure trove of great writing. While the libraries are closed and bookstores are shuttered, take a look at the cookbooks you already have. You’re in for a treat. And we’ve got some suggestions – none of these books are new, and some are all but forgotten. Take a look on your shelves, you may already have a few titles worth curling up with…

From a vegetable focused book by an omnivorous chef, to Canada’s most decorated James Beard Award-winning author, to the Little House on the Prairie of cookbooks, here are some favourites that not only have incredible recipes, but are great reads as well.

 

 

Edna Lewis, The Taste of Country Cooking

Consider this the Little House on The Prairie of American cookbooks, only set in the black village of Freetown, Virginia. Edna Lewis’ memoir is one of the most beautiful food books ever written.

The Taste of Country Cooking chronicles life in Freetown, Virginia, the small farming community where Lewis spent her childhood. The book details a year in the life of Freetown and includes seasonal recipes and stories of life among friends and family. The recipes are organized into evocatively titled menus tied to particular events or times of year: Emancipation Day Dinner, A Dinner Celebrating the Last of the Barnyard Fowl, and A Late-Spring Lunch After Wild Mushroom Picking.” – Saveur

 

Jeremy Fox, On Vegetables

A cookbook about vegetables that delves into the dark side of addiction and anxiety that have plagued many chefs. Fox lays it all out on the page and the result is incredible.

“At the time I felt like I needed the drugs to get me through. The idea of putting on a happy face and meeting with a PR company gave me a crippling stress. I followed the prescriptions at first, but then I would have to meet with editors at elite food magazines, so I took extra stimulants because they perked me up and made me more talkative. It was hard to stop taking the drugs because, frankly, they worked. I was supposed to be representing this health-forward restaurant and lifestyle, and I was going to In-N-Out after work, scarfing down cheeseburgers and anti-anxiety pills.” – excerpt

Naomi Duguid, Taste of Persia

A record breaking 5 x James Beard Award winner, Duguid is a Canadian national treasure.

Taste of Persia opens with a map, which illustrates Ms. Duguid’s wise observation that regional cooking doesn’t respect borders. So the search for Persian cuisine includes stops in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Kurdistan.

We are seduced from the start with the flavors of the region: saffron (most of the world’s supply comes from this part of the world), mint, dill, parsley, cilantro, dried rose petals, sumac, lime, pomegranate and honey. Cinnamon, cardamom and other sweet spices weave their way through savory and sweet dishes.” – New York Times

 

Betty Fussell, I Hear America Cooking

An epic journey across the United States, Fussell delved into the history of each region of American cooking through the people she met during her travels. The result is so fascinating the recipes are almost an afterthought, but then the recipes are so incredible its a wonder that this book isn’t on every kitchen shelf, and coffee table.

“Fussell, a California-born New Yorker with enough Ivy League credentials to start her own school, is a vivacious storyteller. To discover who we are through our food roots, Fussell says that she traveled for two years. She focused on six borderlands, which she refers to as pockets of vernacular cuisine: the desert Southwest, the Louisiana Delta, the tidewater Carolinas, New England, the Great Lakes region and the Pacific Northwest coast. Seeking out the voices of living cooks, she gathered authentic information as well as lore and anecdotes and was befriended by people who invited her into their homes. Their families, their rituals, their recipes became hers.” – Chicago Tribune

Magnus Nilsson, Fäviken

The restaurant no longer exists, but this deep dive into Nordic culture is an exemplary book in so many ways. Beautifully photographed and printed, it is a coffee table book that reads like a gripping romance novel. A romance about food of course.

“If this book doesn’t put you in touch with your inner Viking, I don’t know what would. Fäviken is one of the most engaging and compelling cookbooks to come along in years. Magnus Nilsson’s enlightened cooking philosophy is transformational and should be read by everyone who cares about honest, simple cooking. You may never make a single recipe from this book, but it will undoubtedly make you a more conscious cook.” – New York Journal Of Books

 

For some more suggested titles, check out this blog post from Toronto pastry chef Andrea Mut.



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