New food books worth investigating

A few items on my fall book list….

  1. pasta coverEncyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini de Vita, translated by Maureen B. Fant.  Read about de Vita in the NY Times, which calls the book “social history disguised as  a food book.”  I’m hoping that I’ll finally have a solid grasp “what-sauce-goes-with-what-shape-pasta” after reading this book, thus far an Italian skill beyond my comprehension.  The publisher is UC Press, a great source for thoughtful food books .  If you buy direct from UC Press before the end of October, take advantage of an up to 70% off sale code posted on the website.
  2. Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day, the latest addition to the no-knead baking world.  I was disappointed by Jim Lahey’s much-touted no-knead cookbook*, so I’m really looking forward to Reinhart’s effort.  He manages to stuff his books with precise technique, scientific fact, clear explanation, and  detailed, thorough recipes.  I volunteered to test a few recipes from the book during its creation, and I can’t wait to see the finished product.
  3. besh cookbook
  4. My New Orleans, by John Besh.  Reportedly, the photographs alone took more than a year to complete, as the chef insisted on using seasonal, local products.  Ex-Marine Besh’s latest restaurant endeavor, the American Sector, will open soon; it’s located inside the National World War II museum.

Yes, he’s eating a scoop of La Divina Gelateria’s dulce de leche in the cookbook’s cover photo.

P.S.  If the economy has dented your book-buying budget, don’t forget to use the services of your local public library.  Inter-library loan can deliver almost any book to your branch, free of charge.  Plus, user requests & circulation numbers are considered when libraries make book-purchasing decisions.  Keep checking out the food books, and the food section will almost certainly expand.  It’s environmentally friendly, too…shared resources rather than individual consumption!

*Lahey’s book is thin, padded with ho-hum vignettes and fewer recipes than I expected.  Written in a very conversational tone, it read as though someone dictated it using speech-recognition software.  While Lahey’s no-knead dough cooked inside a closed cast iron pot is undeniably interesting, the book simply wasn’t.  The color photos are oddly lit (though, in fairness, this might be a printing problem limited to my copy). Still, it was worth the purchase price, to me, just for the pizza bianca recipe.

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