I have been meaning to write about the stack of books on my bedside table for a while now. I took this photo a few weeks ago but most of the books remain in the same placeâ€¦ plus there are new books on the floor lined up waiting for some attention. I donâ€™t read a cookbook and put it awayâ€¦ I tend to browse and keep it bedside until I have had my fill. I sometimes re-visit old favorites and I sometimes have books in queue that I should read but have been too lazy to do so. But before I get to my â€œstack,â€ I have recently received and read this paperback cookbook â€œNamit Gid” which is a collection of favorite Ilonggo dishes published by the HS Class of 1980 of the St. Scholasticaâ€™s Academy â€“ Bacolod; recently sent to me by a reader, Maddie. It is an interesting collection of recipes from old classmates and other people closely related to the class, including their cooking teacher, and was published with the intention of raising funds to benefit the school. It is like a recipe index card â€œexchangeâ€ and many of the recipes look like they are family favoritesâ€¦I will be trying some of the recipes in the months ahead. Many thanks to Maddie. It is similar to a recipe book recently published by an Assumption Class also with favorite recipes of class members and a more involved book on the Hidalgo family recipesâ€¦
On to the stack – from the bottom up:
The Cuisines of Spain by Teresa Barrenechea. This is a terrific cookbook with over 250 recipes which are well-written and include some background information on a dish, a region or ingredient. I have tried 3-4 recipes from it with very good results. Photos, layout and print are nice and simple though many dishes do not include a photo (which I prefer). This will be a frequently used cookbook in our home.
The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Berenbaum. I have several books by Ms. Berenbaum and I like them a lot. I am looking forward to the holidays and hope to make some new pies. I havenâ€™t spent too much time on this book yet but it does seem quite comprehensive with very detailed recipes and instructions. Pictures are grouped together in the middle of the book and I dislike this cost saving measure with a passion, it’s so 1970’s. Nevertheless, this looks like a very useful addition to my cookbook library.
The Rituals of Dinner by Margaret Visser. Published in the early 1990â€™s, I have had this book for at least ten years and I remember enjoying it immensely though not sure if I read it cover to cover. I have it back on my bedside table. The book â€œexplores every aspect of our eating ritualsâ€ and it is amusing, enlightening, surprising, intelligent, humorous and educational. Every foodie should have a copy. I am just re-reading certain portionsâ€¦
The Art of Eating Well by Pellegrino Artusi. Recently translated by Kyle M. Phillips III. Both this and the previous book were gifts from my sister, who plies me with terrific food reads. One of Italyâ€™s most celebrated chefs in the mid to late 1800â€™s, Artusi wrote a wonderful cookbook made up of recipes he loved to eat but he couldnâ€™t find a publisher so he published it himself. The book La Scienza in Cucina e lâ€™Arte Mangia Bene (â€œThe Science of Cookery and the Art of Eating Wellâ€) remained untranslated for many decadesâ€¦this book is a wonderful translation. The book is a serious compilation of recipes and makes terrific reading. No photos. And frankly, I have never cooked anything from it though I really should. No fan of Italian food should be without this book in their library.
The Chicago Manual of Style 15th Edition by the University of Chicago Press. This is a reference book for writers, editors and publishers and includes everything that a writer or someone who uses words should know. I ordered it in an effort to try and improve the quality of my writing/posts but it has stayed on my bedside table for at least 3 monthsâ€¦unopened. I just look at it as â€œhomeworkâ€ and find excuses to open any other book in the stack instead. I have to hunker down one week and read it. My writing style may read like I talk, but the mechanics of my English language skills reflect the poor quality of my basic English curriculum from elementary and secondary school and a predisposition to reject anything language related (I have studied English, Filipino, Spanish, French, Japanese and Bahasa Indonesian, but only speak English relatively fluently).
The Associated Press Stylebook. This was ordered at the same time as the previous book and it is another reference guide for journalists, students, editors and writers. Sort of like a dictionary for writers, it helps with rules on grammar, spelling, abbreviation, etc. Itâ€™s something all local newspaper correspondents SHOULD read but probably havenâ€™t. I have opened it several times simply because it DOES have interesting one word entries such as â€œDr Pepper â€“ A trademark (no period after Dr) for a brand of soft drink.â€
Artisanal Cooking by Terrance Brennan and Andrew Friedman. Mr. Brennan is the figure behind two superb New York restaurants, Picholine and Artisanal. On my last trip to New York I really wanted to try Artisanal but couldnâ€™t get a table on short notice; so we just ogled the cheese chillers and their contents instead. This book reads well. I havenâ€™t perused it long enough to cook a recipe from it yet but the simple recipes and the nice photographs make me feel it was worth the money to purchase it instead of a main course at one of the two restaurants. Many of the ingredients are unavailable locally. But when I get my ice cream maker out the next time, I am trying the bookâ€™s recipe for Plum Ice Cream.
The New American Steakhouse Cookbook by David Walzog and Andrew Friedman. Mr. Walzog is the proprietor of three steakhouses in New York and Mr. Friedman has collaborated with several chefâ€™s to help write their cookbooks (see previous Artisanal book). I was attracted to the book for its simple and straightforward recipes which seemed like they would be great for a home cook. I like photographs and this book doesnâ€™t have manyâ€¦ Actually, with a quick flip through it now, I think my money would have been much better spent elsewhere…
Eggs by Michel Roux. A three star Michelin Chef writes a book on just one incredible ingredientâ€¦eggs! I am often wary of one ingredient books but the more I write for Market Manila, the hungrier I get for reference materials. I like this book a lotâ€¦organized by method of cooking from boiled/poached to fried, scrambled, baked, omelettes, crepes, creams and custards, it is a comprehensive and educational read. If you asked me if it was possible to write a 300 page book on eggs, I would have probably said noâ€¦
Choice Cuts by Mark Kurlansky. A birthday gift that I havenâ€™t read yet. It is a â€œselection of food writing from around the world and throughout history.â€ This book I should be working my way through as selections can range from a paragraph on stuffed dormouse to several pages for a short story on carp. I need to move this to the top of the pileâ€¦
Pig Perfect by Peter Kaminsky. A book on pork and swine. History and recipes. I havenâ€™t opened it despite receiving it as present last Christmas. Plus I just recently acquired another book on pork as well by Bruce Aidells that has jumped my reading queue. Maybe I will read them together. I look forward to this one.
Confessions of a French Baker by Peter Mayle. An easy read by Mr. Mayle whose books are a great travelogue and foodie favorite from the South of France and nearby vicinities. This book includes breadmaking secrets and tips and has more paper than ink, but I like the author and will pay the price of the book happily as I am hopeful that 1-3 recipes will make it worth the expenseâ€¦
Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. A memoir of Ms. Reichlâ€™s time as a food critic for the New York Times. Havenâ€™t started it but it got good reviews.
Schottâ€™s Food & Drink Miscellany by Ben Schott. This has been bedside for at least 18 months and I love it. It compiles the most interesting and inane food related trivia or facts. He lists the artists featured on Mouton Rothschildâ€™s wine labels, shows the relative hotness of different chili peppers, describes ingredients, etc. I love this little book.
The Curiosities of Food by Peter Lund Simmonds. Also referred to as The Dainties and Delicacies of Different Nations Obtained from the ANIMAL KINGDOM. First published in 1859, this book covers some of the stranger or more obscure foodstuffs from around the globe. Tough reading stylewise but interesting nonetheless. Read it in small doses.
Phew, when am I going to get to the books that are lined up on the floor beside the bedâ€¦