Spent yesterday at the Great Lakes Bookseller's Association conference in Schaumburg, and got a few food-related books from the publishers: one on silent auction for their canti-censorship fund, and a bunch as they were packing up to go (they don't want to haul samples). We have oodles of non-food books, too, but here's the chow-oriented swag:
1) Advance Reading Copy of The Prairie Table Cookbook by Bill Kurtis with Michelle M. Martin. This was a bit of a disappointment, as much of the book seems to be a commercial plug for Kurtis' Talgrass Prairie grass-fed beef. There are a few interesting recipes, ranging from native american and cowboy originals from the 1800s to modern beef interpretations from Rick Bayless, Paul Katz, Sarah Stegner, George Bumbaris and others.
2) Alice Waters The Art of Simple Food. Surprisingly lacking a dust jacket, nevertheless a beautiful book. The first 200 pages are basic lessons on technique, such as roasting a chicken, four essential sauces, and the second half of the book covers a larger number of recipes. Not all are simple -- her Bolognese is a rich, complex recipe, but it is all elegant and not overblown piles of food. Only a few line drawings, no photos. This looks like a good read.
3) Anthony Bourdain No Reservations - Around the World on an Empty Stomach. I haven't had time to go through this much, but it's mostly travel photo stuff. The chapters are divided by continent, with a separate one for Beirut, then some additional ones with titles such as "Food Porn", "Indigenous Beverates" and "Bathrooms Around the World". The last chapter has a list of recommended restaurants in remote locations (or not -- six of the nine in the US are in NYC). Looks like a nice coffee table book, not so much educational.
4) My Last Supper - 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals, by Melanie Dunea. Beautiful photos of chefs (well, I could skip the one of a naked Tony Bourdain with just a large bone in front of his, uh, you get the idea). The interviews I've flipped through go against the previous similar articles I've read where chefs inevitably request childhood favorites, like mom's pot roast and mac'n'cheese. Here there's a lot of "many courses of perfect seafood" and truffles, foie, etc. About a third of the book is recipes, a number of which (such as chai creme brulee) look worth trying, but there are a few too many raw seafood and gussied up potato dishes to really make it a meal planner. I'll enjoy reading and thumbing through this more than cooking from it.
What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
-- Lin Yutang