Web Exclusive: Winter Reading
New books offer a feast for the eyes and mind
Once the leaves are raked and the lawnmower is stored, there’s time to curl up with a book or three.
This winter, here’s what I’ll be cooking from and reading:
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking
by Samin Nosrat
(Simon & Schuster, 2017)
Nosrat is a chef who kept asking whether the lessons she was getting in some of the country’s best restaurants were written down anywhere. It took her a number of years to find the time to do so, but the result is a gem. She demonstrates how mastering the four elements of salt, fat, acid and heat are keys to good cooking and great food. She’s a chef first and teacher second, but weds the two skills beautifully in a great book for anyone who has a bit of experience cooking but wants to learn more. Also, the book’s illustrations by Wendy McNaughton are a welcome shift from the glossy photos that often fill such books and make them feel stark.
Lucky Peach Presents Power Vegetables!: Turbocharged Recipes for Vegetables with Guts
by Peter Meehan
(Clarkson Potter, 2016)
This book came out in 2016, but this year Lucky Peach, an irreverent zine and food website, closed down. That still saddens me, but this book helps ease the pain. It’s a vegetarianish cookbook with less moxie (and profanity) than Thug Kitchen, but has recipe after recipe packed with flavor. The author set out to create a book with great recipes, without resorting to pasta, eggs or grain bowls. Also, fruits are vegetables and fish and dairy are OK, Meehan says. The resulting recipes are full of fun and umami. The recipes are edgy enough to inspire doubt—until you taste them. I’ll probably be making fish sauce vinaigrette for roasted vegetables for the rest of my life thanks to this book.
A Really Big Lunch: The Roving Gourmand on Food and Life
by Jim Harrison
(Grove Press, 2017)
The author of Legends of the Fall and 38 other books of fiction, nonfiction and poetry loved rich food and wine. Meals couldn’t have enough courses. This new book, released a year after his death in 2016, pulls together essays on food that go well beyond those in the stellar 2000 collection titled The Raw and the Cooked. Harrison tells of bold red wines and platters of meat with crisp writing that demonstrates both his talent and his unwillingness to forgo eating and drinking well.