I have some beautiful books like "HomeBaking - the Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World", and "The Food Lover's Atlas of the World", that I can pick up and read cover to cover - being submerged in the food and cultures of the world through the words and amazing images.
I went on a Moroccan food binge, partly inspired by my dear Moroccan "brother", and hugely because of this amazing book. You can almost smell the spices in the photographs. I almost burned out on the Moroccan Chicken Stew, but I couldn't stop making it! You'll notice my copy in the photograph was mangled by my very bad dog. He was home alone and knew how mad I'd be about attacking my new favorite book. Grrrr...
"The Ultimate Book of Cocktails" has made me want to be a bartender in another life and has taught me a lot about the labyrinth of the mixed beverage. From the different types of glasses & utensils, to the many different ingredients and a ton of recipes. I actually forget about this one most of the time, but every time I open it I am inspired to imbibe some new concoction.
And of course there's Martha. The "Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2002" has been my go to for things that just shouldn't be messed with. Like the insane Dark Chocolate Cake with a crraaazzzy chocolate ganache frosting, which I find not by the page number, the table of contents or the index, but by flipping through the pages till I see the one splattered with chocolate. This has served as dessert and breakfast many a time in my house.
And then there's those books by fellow foodies, reveling in their gastronome exploits of one kind or another. One of my faves that I stumbled upon in a thrift store is called, "The Man Who Ate Everything", a lawyer who somehow turned food critic for Vogue magazine in the late 80's. He had endless food phobias and tackled them all systematically in order to be an unbiased critic. I read the first chapter on 'bread' one rainy day at the beach and went directly from there and spent about a million and a half dollars on bread and cheese at Whole Foods.
And then there's my man. Mr. Anthony Bourdain. I first fell in love with this brash, scraggely, ex chef turned traveling eater & writer (My dream gig!) from his show on the Travel Channel, "No Reservations". Then I started to read his books. "Kitchen Confidential" was his launching pad. It's been reviewed by Restaurant Business Magazine as "equal parts wit and wickedness, Bourdain does the unthinkable by revealing trade secrets that chefs & restaurants cringe to read". He does that, plus he bares his own dirty, scandalous, druggie past with total transparency. And he's so snarkey. Like when talking about a fancy, wanna-be chef wanting to get all lemongrass & Pacific Rim Cuisine on him, "Until then I have four words for you: 'Shut the f*!k up.'" Gotta love him.
I love these books and go to them whenever I need some new inspiration. Whenever my reading material needs a little more, oh I don't know, Flavor??! Pick one up and see where it takes you, and don't forget to pass along your faves over here!
~Charles Lamb, Last Essays of Elia, 1833