Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Cookbook watch - some not so new books


Here are a few books that I've acquired lately, but they're not super-super new. Especially not Tessa Kiros - Falling Cloudberries is several years old, and Apples for Jam came out in 2006. I bought them as a set at the Christmas sale, and I'm very pleased. Both books are really beautifully designed, and I've had a lot of fun leafing through them. I have to say that Apples for Jam is definitely the one I prefer out of the two - it has many more recipes that appeal to me, and I am eager to try it out. Everything about it is really nice - the photos, the layout, the clear writing... And I always like cookbooks that are readable - not just something to idly leaf through but something you can actually read. This is definitely the latter - Tessa Kiros writes a lot of memories of her childhood, and it adds something special to both books.

Art of Simple Food book jacket

For one that I enjoyed less than I thought I would, The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters. Alice Waters is a legend - known for her love of fresh, local food, she's one of the best known American chefs. I expected to be blown away, but I wasn't. It's possible that my expectations were off - I'm not saying that this isn't a good book, but it's definitely not a new favorite. It is in fact a rather basic book - something I would recommend for those who don't cook a lot, but who wants to start. It has a lot of tips and lessons - all quite basic - and a lot of information about ingredients and what goes well with what. All nice. But it doesn't get me in the kitchen. Not a single one of the recipes - and there are quite many - called out to me. I'm sure the food is very tasty - it's not that, it just doesn't excite me very much. I am also not thrilled about the recipe format itself, and while illustrations are nice, photos are nicer. I think I'll bring this book with me to my parents house in Spain where we always get wonderful produce and I think this kind of cooking will be quite nice.

American Masala book jacket

I've saved the best for last. This book - American Masala by Suvir Saran - is nothing less than mouth-watering. I yearn to make almost every single recipe! Is it Indian food? Not exactly. It's more of eternal favorites like burgers, salads and lasagna, but with an Indian, spicy twist. It all seems so fresh and with nice, bright flavors! I also love the writing - every recipe has a personal note, and that really brings it all together for me. Photograps are beautiful as well. What am I dying to make? The lamb burgers. And every single salad in the chapter - they all sound marvellous!

I'm not including bookstore links, but you can find all of these easily in the online bookstores. Falling Cloudberries is the only one translated into Swedish.


Wendy said...

Alice Waters has been on my list for a while now. Based on your comments I think I'll bump her further, down the very long list!

I have both Tessa Kiros' books too. Love to look at them as they are just so very pretty but I haven't found the recipes to be great.

cookworm said...

Glad to see I'm not the only one with those feelings about Medrich's book. It seemed like a lot of basic recipes with some gratuitous ingredients. Your review of Falling Cloudberries really piqued my interest, though! I'll be looking for it soon.

Jeanne said...

I agree with you on Tessa Kiros - she is great. I don't have Apples for Jam yet but now I desperately want it :) The American Masala sounds fascinating too...