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The Best Cookbooks of the Century So Far

 
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2019 1:17 am    Post subject: The Best Cookbooks of the Century So Far Reply with quote

Annals of Gastronomy

The Best Cookbooks of the Century So Far

By Helen Rosner
July 14, 2019

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-gastronomy/the-best-cookbooks-of-the-century-so-far

In the digital age, cookbooks have reinvented themselves.

The Internet really ought to have killed cookbooks. Recipes—tidy, self-contained packets of information that for centuries were individually swapped and shared, indexed and catalogued—are ideally suited for digital transmission. As they migrated online, liberated from the printed and bound, multiplying giddily, the thousand-recipe doorstops and easy-weeknight omnibus editions that had, for so long, stood in hardcover at the end of the shelf closest to the stove were rendered obsolete. And that should have been the end of it.

Yet somehow cookbooks stuck around. In fact, as the rest of the book industry found itself in a post-millennial free fall, cookbooks were selling better than ever. This is because, coinciding with the rise of the Internet, cookbooks reinvented themselves. What once were primarily vehicles for recipes became anything but: the recipes still mattered, but now they existed in service of something more—a mood, a place, a technique, a voice. Cookbooks of the pre-Internet age remain essential, of course. (What would any kitchen be without the guiding voices of Madhur Jaffrey, Julia Child, Edna Lewis, Harold McGee, and a hundred others?) But, to my mind, the best cookbooks of the twenty-first century are among the very best ever written.

What follows is a list of my personal favorites from the beginning of the new millennium to the present. It’s a list that’s shaped by the particulars of how I eat, how I cook, and how I read, and its ten volumes—which include a profanity-filled restaurant scrapbook, a historiological cookbook of cookbooks, and a multi-thousand-page set of culinary lab notes—may not be the same that populate the Top Ten of any other cook. But what compels and delights me about my particular catalogue is that each book is, at heart, a text that teaches rather than dictates, that emphasizes cooking as a practice rather than as merely a means to a meal. They’re books that not only have great recipes and gorgeous images but take exuberant advantage of their form—subverting, reconsidering, and reframing the rules and limits of cookbook writing. If I’m stuck on what to make for dinner, I have only to Google some variation of “salmon arugula cast-iron easy.” For proof of what an extraordinary object a cookbook can be, I turn again and again to these.

“The River Cottage Cookbook,” by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (2001)

Changing one’s relationship with food “involves no sacrifice, no hardship or discomfort,” Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall writes, in his poetic ode to the hands-on, homestead-ish life. His prescription is simple: get in there and do it yourself—grow your own food, meet your meat, learn the colors and patterns of the landscape around you through all its seasons. Years before “farm to table” was a buzzword and Michael Pollan a household name, Fearnley-Whittingstall was urging readers to move away from industrial food systems and reacquaint themselves with lo-fi self-sufficiency: he will teach you how to cultivate your own berry brambles, trap your own eels (this is a very British book), and raise (and slaughter) your own pigs. The idea that pastoral practices can be pleasurable instead of burdensome is old news for the many home cooks today who know how to spot ramps in the wild and whip up D.I.Y. ricotta. But “The River Cottage Cookbook” ’s ideas (and straightforward, elegant recipes) remain striking reminders that what we eat isn’t just food on a plate but part of a thrilling natural cycle, our human lives brushing up against countless others, plant and animal alike.

“The Zuni Café Cookbook,” by Judy Rodgers (2002)

Since its introduction, in the late nineteen-eighties, the roast chicken served at San Francisco’s Zuni Café has earned a reputation as the best roast chicken in the world—crisp-skinned, impossibly juicy, served atop a salad of torn bread and bitter greens whose tart vinaigrette blends with the rich, golden drippings. That recipe alone would land this book on any list of the great and essential, but the rest of the volume has a magic, as well. Judy Rodgers got her culinary footing in France, living for a year with the family of the chef Jean Troisgros, and in Berkeley, where she cooked at Chez Panisse, and this five-hundred-page manifesto draws on those threads of experience (and others). The result is a remarkable collection of emphatic culinary opinions, several hundred of which are disguised as recipes: the merits of some soft cheeses over others, the precise way to dress a salad, the nonnegotiable importance of salting raw beef and fowl a day or more before it’s cooked. The book’s magnificent opening chapter, “What to Think About Before You Start, & While You Are Cooking,” lays out the philosophical blueprint for every New American and California-casual cookbook that followed.

“Baking: From My Home to Yours,” by Dorie Greenspan (2006)

It’s true, unfortunately, that the art of baking is more rigid and exacting than that of stovetop cooking. The whims of a search-engine algorithm won’t cut it if you want your biscuits perfectly fluffy, your cakes precisely lofty yet moist, and your cookies angelic; a baker, more than any other cook, needs a recipe writer she can truly trust. To my mind, there is none more reliable than Dorie Greenspan, a lapsed academic who found her calling in cakes and pastries and built a career writing uncommonly precise road maps for replicating her success. With her as a guide, there is no room for self-destructive improvisation: her stylish, rigorous, cheerful recipes work because she tells her reader exactly how to make them work, anticipating our errors and our questions, building contingencies, alternatives, and solutions right into the text, and evincing a soothing flexibility. (If the ganache at the bottom of a layered pudding spills up the sides of the cup, “it’s pretty; if it doesn't, the chocolate will be a surprise.”) And if you only have one Greenspan book, it should be this one, a masterwork spanning breakfast to midnight snacks—not to mention her famous World Peace Cookies.

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Annals of Gastronomy

“Momofuku,” by David Chang and Peter Meehan (2009)

For many accomplished restaurant chefs, authoring a cookbook is just another checkbox on the to-do list of culinary celebrity, something to fit in after headlining a charity auction but before doing a stint on reality TV. Accordingly, countless celebrity-chef cookbooks consist of little more than dinner-party recipes sprinkled with pleasantly superficial biography. David Chang, whose Momofuku restaurants blew up American restaurant culture and then rebuilt it again in a decidedly hipper, more global, more postmodern form, did something similarly upending with his Momofuku book. Co-written with Peter Meehan, who later became Chang’s collaborator on the now-defunct food magazine Lucky Peach, the book is sometimes brilliantly cookable—see the dazzlingly effective method for cast-iron ribeye, or the near-instant ginger-scallion sauce, which tastes good on almost anything. Other times, by design, it is absolutely impossible, outlining finicky and complex recipes that are best suited for a brigade of swaggering line cooks. (I love the headline for the frozen foie-gras torchon, which advises you not to make the dish.) Throughout the volume, Chang spends time grappling with what was, at the time, the central drama of his career: initially the proud outsider, devoted to rejecting the restaurant world’s stodgy establishment, Momofuku’s culinary subversion was so forceful (and so appealing) that it became an establishment of its own.

“Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking,” by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet (2011)

The molecular-gastronomy movement was in full swing in 2011—you could hardly snap a napkin in a top-tier restaurant without hitting a spherified cocktail and disrupting a stabilized emulsion or two. Into the haze of edible smoke thudded Nathan Myhrvold’s five-volume, 2,438-page, several-hundred-dollar magnum opus, the result of three years of testing in a full-time, fully staffed research kitchen. (Myhrvold, a technologist and former Microsoft C.T.O., has a habit of professionalizing his extracurricular interests.) “Modernist Cuisine” strapped turbo boosters to the slow, iterative experiments that had been happening in restaurant kitchens, delivering hundreds of ideas, models, and scientific answers on a scale that had been previously unthinkable. (For those of more modest culinary means, there’s also the companion volume “Modernist Cuisine at Home.”) Curiously, almost as soon as the book landed, high-end chefs’ attentions moved elsewhere—the mad-scientist era of gels and foams gave way to the more anthropological, emotional sense-of-place cooking spearheaded by chefs like René Redzepi, of Noma. “Modernist Cuisine,” it seems, had explored its subject so comprehensively that there was little ground left to cover.

“Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking,” by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook (2015)


This book isn’t responsible for the new trendiness of Middle Eastern food—that honor belongs, arguably, to the collected works of Yotam Ottolenghi, and his artful deployment of pomegranate seeds and tahini. But, in my mind, Ottolenghi’s books make better sources of inspiration than instruction or learning. For the latter, there’s Michael Solomonov. “Zahav,” like “Momofuku,” is a restaurant cookbook that avoids the clichés of restaurant cookbooks—it’s based on the menu of Solomonov’s Philadelphia restaurant of the same name, where the kitchen specializes in what he calls “modern Israeli cuisine,” a patchwork of Levantine, Maghrebi, Persian, Egyptian, Yemeni, and Eastern European influences. The book goes both deep (into Solomonov’s own life story, which is marked by great loss) and broad (addressing the cultural and political complexities of considering Israel as a culinary entity). It’s also a patient and encouraging guide to Solomonov’s dazzling recipes, worth the price of entry for almost any single chapter alone, especially those covering Solomonov’s magnificent salatim (dips, salads, and other small vegetable plates) and his approach to open-fire grilling.

For the Love of Bread

“Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto,” by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay (2015)

There are a handful of conventional recipes in this book—a few sauces, a coleslaw, some beef ribs, your usual barbecue accoutrements. But the big one in “Franklin Barbecue,” the singular one this book exists to document, is the one for the Austin pitmaster’s legendary smoked brisket. The actual brisket recipe fills eight pages late in the book, but the two hundred or so pages that come before are, arguably, as essential to the process. With the reverent intensity of the true believer, Aaron Franklin delivers an almost comically sweeping exercise in obsession and precision: if you want to make Franklin Barbecue–quality barbecue, you can’t just buy a hunk of meat and light a fire. You need to build a smoker and learn how to make it purr, you need a wood guy, you need to learn how to manipulate flames and air. The great lie of most restaurant cookbooks is the promise that you and I can do it at home. Like Chang’s frozen foie-gras torchon, Franklin’s barbecue comes with a hard truth: you probably can’t. But if you wanted to—if you really wanted to—he’s here to show you every single thing you need to know to pull it off.

“The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African-American Cookbooks,” by Toni Tipton-Martin (2015)

Early in her career, the food writer and editor Toni Tipton-Martin noticed that virtually none of the cookbooks she encountered in professional kitchens were written by black cooks. Over decades, she read and researched hundreds of rare and often forgotten works of the African-American culinary record. “The Jemima Code” is a chronicle of her learning, an annotated catalogue of some hundred and sixty volumes, many from Tipton-Martin’s own library, spanning from the days of slavery to just a few years ago. Whether writing about a brief recipe pamphlet or a dense guide to household management, Tipton-Martin gives each book a generous page or more of comment, limning the biographies of the authors and celebrating their accomplishments. It’s a beautiful and essential corrective to the ongoing erasure of generations of black American culinaria and its indelible influence on American cuisine writ large. (“Jubilee,” Tipton-Martin’s more conventional cookbook, compiling recipes from the books in this collection, is publishing this fall.)

“Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking,” by Samin Nosrat (2017)

Reference books, almost by definition, aren’t meant to be read straight through; they’re index-driven, drily instructive knowledge-delivery mechanisms. They’re certainly not supposed to do what “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” does: just flat-out teach you, from the ground up, how to be a good cook. The title’s four words refer to the central pillars of cooking; the book explains how mastering them will transform everyday cooking from rote recipe-following to something more intuitive, jazz-like. The lush, four-episode Netflix series inspired by this book might be the trebuchet that launched Samin Nosrat to household-name status, but it’s her book that we’ll still be reaching for decades from now, as a guide for beginners in need of essential egg-scrambling techniques or for experienced cooks looking to burnish their confidence and bolster their skills. I always thought I knew how to use salt, for example; after applying Nosrat’s lessons—layering different varieties, seasoning at various stages of the cooking process, exploring the mineral’s different guises and effects, bold and subtle—I feel like I’ve levelled up from journeyman to master.

“Feast: Food of the Islamic World,” by Anissa Helou (2018)

Anissa Helou, who grew up in Beirut, made her name with lyrical Mediterranean cookbooks that make ideal celebratory dinners. “Feast” maintains her crisp, evocative prose and approachable recipe writing, but shifts its boundaries from the geographic to the religious, chronicling Muslim culinary traditions across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The book’s three hundred recipes trace the path of Islam from its seventh-century origins in present-day Saudi Arabia to the vibrant Muslim communities of Senegal, India, Indonesia, China’s Xinjiang province, and more. The food itself is phenomenal—breads, salads, stews, curries, sticky-sweet desserts—but even more illuminating is Helou’s decision to include blocks of different recipes for a single dish. At first, they seem redundant: half a dozen simple flatbreads, or innumerable variations on ground spiced meat formed into kebabs. In fact, in outlining their minute differences side by side, Helou reveals the habits, rituals, and histories that make up a vast and heterogeneous religious culture and cuisine.

Helen Rosner is The New Yorker’s roving food correspondent. In 2016, she won the James Beard award for personal-essay writing.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Best Cookbooks of 2020

Despite everything, it’s been a hell of a year for cookbooks. Here are ten of the best.

By Helen Rosner / December 15, 2020

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/2020-in-review/the-best-cookbooks-of-2020

The African elephant holds the earthly record for the longest gestation period, a whopping six hundred and forty-five days of pregnancy, or just a few months shy of two years. This happens also to be the approximate time it takes for an average cookbook to go from pitch to publication. With schedules set so far in advance, each year’s crop of cookbooks serves as something of a time capsule: the trends, hopes, celebrities, and big ideas of a few years ago land on our kitchen counters, their fates tied to the staying power of their central conceits.

Who could have foreseen a worldwide pandemic coming and throwing everything—including the world of cookbooks—into chaotic, extraordinary realignment? (Besides, of course, all the folks who very clearly saw it coming.) Major titles set to publish this past spring were postponed—some to the fall, some to next year, some indefinitely—and others were delayed as the spread of COVID-19 put printing and shipping infrastructures on pause. The books that did come out on time, or maybe a little late, were born into a world where the usual promotional parade of bookstore events and in-person cook-alongs were replaced by Zoom events and Instagram Lives, and had to fight against a relentless litany of crises to get even a little space in the popular consciousness.

Still, despite it all, 2020 turned out to be a hell of a year for cookbooks. Incidentally—almost eerily—many of the volumes released addressed the conundrums of quarantine cooking head on: roadmaps to D.I.Y. bread baking and bean simmering; inspiration for pantry fatigue; ersatz replacements for beloved, out-of-reach restaurant dishes (plus, for restaurants selling their own books, ways to help boost their free-fall bottom lines). Cookbooks are always marvelous vehicles for armchair journeys, though from our current vantage the travel they facilitate is less geographic than chronological, conjuring a now-remote era of dinner parties, weekend jaunts, raucous celebrations, and crowded marketplaces.

Cookbooks have never been our only source of culinary guidance, and this year’s explosion in Instagram Live broadcasts, TikTok cooking demos, and cook-along Zoom sessions served as a reminder that recipes aren’t defined by their medium. But there’s a particular beauty of scale to the best cookbooks, which, between front cover and back, have space for greater narrative arcs and can explore places and people and techniques in greater detail than a single video or blog post possibly can. (Not to mention that, after eight or nine hours of staring at, talking into, and being talked at by a screen, one is relieved to turn one’s eyes to the relative tranquility of the paper page.) Like so many people, I cooked at home this year more than I ever have before, and haven’t exactly loved every minute of it. But one of the few reliable ways to coax back a spark of the old excitement was the pleasure of a new cookbook.

A note that the year’s crop of food writing included many marvelous drinks books and non-cookbooks (such as John deBary’s razor-sharp “Drink What You Want” and Marcia Chatelain’s stunning “Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America”), which aren’t included here in this wholly subjective, completely personal, undoubtedly incomplete list, ordered alphabetically by author.

“Red Sands,” by Caroline Eden
Book cover of Red Sands by Caroline Eden


In a sprawling, journalistic first-person travelogue through Central Asia—punctuated with alluring and approachable recipes—Eden, who is based in Edinburgh, captures both the beauty and unease of travel with uncanny precision, accounting for small moments, great histories, and political tensions with a literary voice that often brushes against the sublime. “We left Aktau’s shoreline and its clinging marine air, driving through the scrappy outskirts of the city, travelling into the desert interior, a vast untamed spiritual geography,” she writes of her entry into the great sweep of western Kazakhstan. From there, she traces a journey through Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, a cluster of nations precariously balanced between Russia and China, following paths set by pilgrims, farmers, and oil convoys, eating all the while: jewel-like fruits, pillowy pilafs, dense yogurt cheeses, and buttery dumplings.

“New World Sourdough,” by Bryan Ford
Book cover of New World Sourdough by Bryan Ford

This guidebook to all things sourdough, published in June, was perfectly timed to the pandemic-fuelled obsession with naturally leavened bread. Ford, who made his name as a baking blogger, urges those of us in thrall to our starters to think beyond the boule: pretzel buns, masa focaccia, Puerto Rican mallorcas, airy challah—and, as I’d expect from Ford, who grew up in New Orleans, definitive takes on French bread, queen cake, and the dense-yet-airy rounds that house a muffuletta. For beginners, the book’s encouraging first section goes through all the tools, techniques, and troubleshooting in scrupulous (yet never off-puttingly technical) detail. I think of myself as having cursed hands that murder sourdough starter at a touch, but under Ford’s patient, meticulous mentorship I actually turned out a tangy, hearty, truly gorgeous round of pan rustico.

“In Bibi’s Kitchen,” by Hawa Hassan
Book cover of In Bibi's Kitchen by Hawa Hassan


The grandmother trope, when it comes to cooking, is well-worn with good reason—it’s reasonable, especially as the world becomes more industrialized and homogenized, that our elders are the keepers of domestic wisdom. Here, Hassan interviewed grandmothers from eight East African countries—some now emigrated to the U.S., some still living in their homelands, at least one who’s never moved from the place she was born but who now, thanks to shifting international borders, technically resides in a different country than the one she was born in. Hassan allowed each participating bibi to select her own recipes to share, and the result is a beautifully intimate portrait of home cooking across many homes: spiced fried fish, plantains with prawns, lasagna, cheddar-stuffed grilled cheese sandwiches spiked with a spice-laden South African chutney called chakalaka.

“50 Ways to Cook a Carrot,” by Peter Hertzmann
Book cover of 50 Ways to Cook a Carrot by Peter Hertzmann


This clever little book is, as the title promises, a compendium of nothing but carrot recipes—carrot soup, carrot gumdrops, macaroni and carrot—though the titular root is a placeholder (or maybe a metaphor) as much as a literal ingredient. Each recipe is a practice exercise for a different foundational kitchen skill, from basic structural matters of grating, julienning, and blending to the more high-concept techniques of salt-fermenting and cooking sous vide—all done with carrots. With instructions and explanations delivered with the pleasingly brusque encouragement of a seasoned teacher, this is a brilliantly audacious act of culinary pedagogy that (also quite brilliantly) verges on the absurd.

“Blood,” by Jennifer McLagan
Book cover of Blood by Jennifer McLagan


Jennifer McLagan is the Louise Nevelson of the kitchen, picking up dismissed and discarded ingredients and recontextualizing them in a framework of beauty and power. Her œuvre includes the sensational volumes “Fat,” “Bones,” “Odd Bits” (a paean to offal), and “Bitter,” a book dedicated to an entire maligned flavor, all available in elegant hardcover with dramatic photography. “Blood,” slim and hand-illustrated, is more of a chapbook. (McLagan has mentioned that the traditional book world was skittish about the subject matter; she produced this with the Canadian indie imprint Good Egg). But it is no less eye-opening, an exegesis on the art of the sanguine, plus twenty-four recipes: for blood pasta, blood meringues (“The only downside of this recipe is that the blood takes a lot longer to whip than egg whites”), blood cocktails (“You must have very fresh blood to make these drinks”), rabbit ragu thickened with blood, and, of course, blood sausage.

“The Flavor Equation,” by Nik Sharma
Book cover of The Flavor Equation by Nik Sharma


“Flavor is made up of many parts,” Sharma writes in the introduction to this expansive exploration of the subjective experience of how things taste—an all-timer of an understatement. Sharma was a lab scientist before turning his full-time attention to writing and cooking; here, in his second cookbook, he weaves an illuminating thesis on the entire concept of “flavor”: a synthesis of physical chemistry, neuroscience, emotion, memory, mood, and countless other tangibles and intangibles. The science is rigorous but never inaccessible, and the recipes (many, though not all, influenced by Indian flavors and techniques) illustrate his various principles but also stand marvelously on their own: chickpea salad dressed with date and tamarind, kulfi flavored with spiced coffee, a luscious crab tikka masala dip. I have to admit a bias here: my favorite cookbooks are those that really dig into the principles and hidden patterns of cooking, that don’t just provide recipes but equip a reader to understand what’s really going on in the pan (and in our mouths). “The Flavor Equation” deserves space on the shelf right next to “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” as a titan of the how-and-why brigade.

“Vegetable Kingdom,” by Bryant Terry
Book cover of Vegetable Kingdom by Bryant Terry


The fourth solo cookbook from the author of the excellent “Afro-Vegan,” from 2014, is a stylish, inspiring love letter to the world of plants and fungi. Terry’s recipes tend toward the complex without ever becoming fussy: farro salad with a Caribbean-inflected burnt-scallion dressing, jerk tofu wrapped in collards, and a luscious dish of fennel braised in a citrus mojo. (When I interviewed Terry for the New Yorker Radio Hour, earlier this month, he gave me permission to swap out the fennel dish’s labor-intensive sunchoke cream for store-bought crème fraîche, plant-based or dairy, and herewith I pass that permission along to you.) Cleverly organized by the part of the plant—roots, stems, bulbs, fruits, flowers—it’s an arresting collection of special-occasion fare, a herbivorous feast rooted in the flavors of the African diaspora.

“Xi’an Famous Foods: The Cuisine of Western China, from New York’s Favorite Noodle Shop,” by Jason Wang
Book cover of Xi'an Famous Foods by Jason Wang


A skeptic could say that Anthony Bourdain deserves the credit for Xi’an Famous Foods—or maybe Andrew Zimmern, or the Times’ food editor Sam Sifton, or any of the other professional eaters who ducked into a tiny, steam-filled stall in Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall and emerged, stupefied, in a glorious haze of heat and vinegar. The fuller story is the one told here by Jason Wang, whose father opened that original stall and who is responsible for the restaurant’s dazzling expansion throughout New York City. (There are currently about a dozen locations.) The book begins in the central Chinese city of Xi’an, the Wang family’s place of origin, then charts their jarring transition to a new life in the U.S. and the grit and ingenuity that went into building an empire of chili oil. It’s possible that the best three years of my eating life were when I worked in an office down the block from a Xi’an Famous Foods location and I could treat myself to their face-blasting cumin-lamb burger as often as I pleased. Having the how-to manual at home is a gift.

“A Good Bake,” by Melissa Weller
Book cover of A Good Bake by Melissa Weller


In certain culinary circles (really good ones, where the cake is always terrific), Melissa Weller’s name is uttered only in tones of the greatest reverence. Weller is a savant of doughs and batters—she created the baking and pastry programs at multiple restaurants known almost entirely for their baking and pastry (High Street on Hudson, Sadelle’s)—who got her start as a chemical engineer. In this book, her first, she translates her meticulous, perfectionistic mode to home cooks, with detailed plans of attack for stollen, babka, pies, and more. Yes, these recipes go into intricate detail, but when it comes to baking that’s cause for excitement, not alarm: it means all you need to do is follow the instructions to the letter and you’ll be rewarded with some of the most exquisite baked goods of your life.

“The British Baking Book,” by Regula Ysewijn
Book cover of The British Baking Book by Regula Ysewijn

This stunning ode to British baking went semi-viral earlier this year, when the Tokyo-based writer Kat Bee tweeted a page from the book in which the author, Ysewijn, acknowledges the inextricable role of slavery, particularly in the Caribbean, in the development of British sweets: “Sugar has a cost, and that cost was paid by those in bondage.” This clear-eyed perspective on the line between the past and the present runs throughout the book, which threads together Cornish pasties, treacle tarts, seed cake, and all the other greats of the British baking canon. (Worth noting: like many cookbooks originating in the U.K., “The British Baking Book” ’s title was changed for its American edition, ostensibly to better appeal to U.S. readers. I find the British title, “Oats in the North, Wheat from the South,” infinitely more fun and intriguing, and made a point of seeking out that edition.)

Helen Rosner is a staff writer at The New Yorker. In 2016, she won the James Beard award for personal-essay writing.
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