Reading a good food book is like relishing a great meal. Minus all the laboring in the kitchen! Take Julie And Julia: My Year Of Cooking Dangerously. Published in 2009, it was devoured by not just foodies but readers around the world. Here are five great reads from 2017 that will feed the hungry reader in you.
On Eating Insects: Essays, Stories And Recipes By Nordic Food Lab, Josh Evans, Roberto Flore and Michael Bom Frost
For most of us, eating insects is taboo. Considering over two billion people around the world eat insects, it can’t be all that bad, right? Studies have shown that edible insects are the most natural super foods, with protein, calcium, amino acids, available in them in abundance. At a time when the West is slowly opening up to the idea of eating creepy crawlies, a book like this with essays, stories and recipes around bug diet will serve to break the taboo. The book is divided into academic essays, stories and recipes. Considering entomophagy or insect eating has its beginning in colonialism, the writers also discuss these issues and the power dynamics in details in the academic essays section.
The book grew out of research at the Nordic Food Lab, the nonprofit founded by Nomahead chef René Redzepi. The TakeOut calls the book “an engaging bug-munching journey that travels from Peru to Uganda to Thailand and beyond”. The Atticus Review says the depth and complexity with which the book treats the culinary practice was unexpected. “The cultural and global impact, the many voices within the practice and exploration, and the varied arguments for expanding the practice of insect consumption are given appropriate space in the book, while the simple beauty of experiencing and creating new foods that taste good is celebrated,” says the review.
What do countries stand to lose in a war? Other than the obvious economic losses, there are cultural losses, too. But in the book, Kaukasis the Cookbook: The Culinary Journey Through Georgia, Azerbaijan & Beyond, through the various food recipes from places like Georgia and Azerbaijan, Olia Hercules, a Ukranian national and chef says that there is much to gain in terms of food in case of a war and the mass migration and the resulting re-adaptation. Originally from Nagorno-Karabakh, Olia’s family moved to Azerbaijan’s capital Baku and then to Kieve, Ukraine when war broke out in the 1980s. In her interaction with The Guardian, she says this helped her orginally Armenian household borrow and inculcate many cooking techniques of other cultures. “Whether you are Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, or one of any of the other Caucasian people, so much of the region’s culture is intertwined, and – on a more domestic level – so many cooking techniques and dishes are shared and borrowed. I am glad I grew up without having to take sides,” says Olia.
Triggered by the food cooked in her aunt’s kitchen, Olia took off on a trip around the region only to come back with over 100 delicious recipes which has transformed into this marvelous book. Jamie Oliver calls the book "A sensitive, personal journey expressed through the beauty of food - just wonderful". Nigella Lawson says, "Olia Hercules is a storyteller-foodwriter, and a wholly original voice in the kitchen - there's not a recipe of hers I don't want to cook immediately".
I Hear She Is A Real Bitch by Jen Agg
The mood of the moment is #metoo. And it’s only fair that the restaurant industry, considered a male bastion, needs some dismantling. Canadian restaurateur Jen Agg, who spearheaded Canada’s culinary revival and earned her bragging rights with some of the most famous restaurants under her belt, Jen Agg certainly knows much about the sexism that prevails in the industry. In her book, she says it like only she can.
Anthony Bourdain, known for never mincing his words, says about the book, “A terrific, beautifully written, frank, and funny memoir, and a compelling argument for pulling down the long outdated system of ‘bro’ culture that has dominated the industry since what feels like the beginning of time.” The New York Times is unkind in its review of the book, starting it with a warning to the readers that they are about to deal with a formidable ego and accuses the author of not being humble in her observation of herself. If Jen Agg could evoke such strong emotions in a reader such as the reviewer, and her book could earn a place in the book review section in The New York Times, I reckon the book deserves a dekho.
Fresh India: 130 Quick, Easy And Delicious Vegetarian Recipes For Everyday by Meera Sodha
Meera Sodha is everbody’s favourite Indian chef. Born to Indian origin parents in the UK, she is much loved for her grip on Indian food and cooking. She is truly glocal—she experiences Indian food like a local and presents it like a global. Her first book Made In India was a best seller and was named the book of the year by both The Times and The Financial Times. Fresh India is her second outing and is already been talked about in culinary circles. The inspiration for this book comes from her friends who were embracing vegetarianism and veganism and Meera, with her roots in Gujarat, a predominantly vegetarian state in India, decided to help them with some recipes. The book won her OFM Awards 2017 in the best new cookbook category. What has made Meera’s second book such a favourite? Let’s flip through the pages and see for ourselves.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
The first time I heard of this book is in a video interview chef Thomas Zacharias of The Bombay Canteen put up on his Instagram where he recommends the book as an interesting read. Considering this is Samin’s first book, it is doing quite well as The New York Times bestseller. Chef and writer Samin Nosrat teaches everyone and her aunt the simplest ways to get their food perfect on the plate—get the salt, fat, acid and heat right and you have your food right. She says salt enhances flavour; fat delivers flavour and generates texture; acid balances flavour; and heat determines the texture of the food and in learning to get these four elements in food right, lies the real art of cooking. The book has been well received; the readers call it “funny”, “well written”, “an essential cookbook”, and one “that transcends boundaries of cooking experience, background, and personal taste preferences” in Goodreads.