17 Sep2008

What Am I Reading?

by Marketman

books1

It’s been almost a year since I have done a post, or two, on books by my bedside. Here is one of the taller piles on the floor by my side of the bed at the moment…

books2

The Butcher, by Leanne Kitchen, is a beautiful book, with a stunning cover, I might add. It has chapters on “Beef, Lamb Pork, Veal, Offal, Poultry & Game”. And some classic recipes in all of these categories. Ms. Kitchen (good grief, how’s that for a last name of a cookbook author) talks about meat, a bit of the manner in which it is raised, the cuts that come from the carcass, the best way to store and care for the meat, and several ways to cook it. The visuals are beautiful, the lay out clean and pleasing to the eye, the recipes straightforward… I am still reading it, but I am happy to add it to my cookbook collection.

books3

Though I have never been to Bubby’s, a New York “institution” that is famous for it’s pies, I am never one to pass up on a book with good pie recipes. Sister sent this book over in a balikbayan box and I have barely had a chance to leaf through its pages, but there are some pretty good tips for a casual baker like myself. With basic skill issues discussed, variations of classic pies provided, ice cream recipes that pair with pies, sauces and other goodies, this is a book I will certainly be baking from in the month’s ahead. I do love pie. But not while I am on a diet. :( Bubby’s Homemade Pies by Ron Silver and jen Bervin.

books4

I picked up this paperback book, entitled “Pulutan, From the Soldier’s Kitchen,” by Elmer D. Cruz and Emerson R. Rosales, not because I necessarily supported their role in a failed coup attempt, known as the Oakwood Mutiny, but because I was curious what our soldier’s were cooking up out in the field… With recipes called “Humbalicious” or “Calamares a la Trillanes,” I bought this PHP225 peso book (overpriced) in a flash. I haven’t cooked anything from it yet, but I think I will be avoiding the “Insectxotic” recipe using field crickets or salagubangs, and the recipe for “Kinilaw na Tamilok (Woodworm)”. This may read better after a dozen San Mig Lights. :)

books5

Perhaps the most incredible attempt at flattery in the past year occurred when one of our lawyers suggested that I had perhaps penned this brilliant book, The Black Swan, using a pseudoynm Nassim Nicholas Taleb. After spending years with me in various discussions and testing the bounds of ethics and logic and ability to see ahead, the lawyer had read this book as though he was hearing my voice narrate the words. I ran out and bought it. And he was partially right. I loved this book, and even though it was hard to read all the way through, I recognized a kinship with the author that doesn’t happen that often with best-selling novels. The base premise is a “Black Swan,” or a highly improbably event, and what happens when it happens. I may not be reading too many intellectually stimulating books lately, but this was definitely worth it. Now if only I could write like that…

books6

Jean-Georges Vongerichten has an interesting background, after cooking for the Mandarin Hotel group, starting out in Bangkok, then Hong Kong, etc., he fell in love with Asian flavors and techniques and melded this with his classical European training. He was cooking at the Oriental in Bangkok in the early 1990’s when traffic was horrific, and unfortunately, my expense budget didn’t allow for tasting menus at the Oriental… I have tried his food in Hong Kong and was once treated to lunch at one of his restaurants in New York, Jojo’s. Very good food. So I was thrilled to hear that he did a cookbook with primarily Asian flavors and influences and ran out to buy a copy. It isn’t as terrific as I thought it might be, but for the price of the book, just a couple of brilliant recipes will make up for the overall letdown… And his recipe for Chicken Wings with Ginger and Caramel Sauce is to die for. If you aren’t into fusion cooking (which I usually am not), or are a big fan of Jean-Georges, this isn’t a must buy… Asian Flavors of Jean-Georges by Jean-George Vongerichten.

books7

This one is fresh from the bookstore. How, oh how could I resist a book simply called “fat, an appreciation of a misunderstood ingredient, with recipes” by Jennifer McLagan, the author of another book called “Bones”??? With just four fatty chapters entitled 1. Butter: worth it, 2. pork fat; The King, 3. poultry fat: Versatile and Good for You and 4. beef and lamb fats: Overlooked but Tasty, this beautifully presented, photographed and written book with recipes is a welcome addition to my collection. And here’s a bit of trivia for you: did you know that “Fat Man” was the code name used for the second atomic bomb dropped on Japan in August 1945? I certainly didn’t…

books8

The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters. Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution. Note the french market basket on the cover, doesn’t it look like Marketman’s? It’s by Alice Waters, she is almost a Food God. Simple recipes, tips, and suggestions. I have tried several recipes and they worked well. I would have paid to be a fly on the wall in the Chez Panisse kitchen of Ms. Waters in the 1980’s…

books9

If my genie in a Diet Coke can weren’t imaginary, she would grant me my wish, to have the Philippine equivalent of the Petersham Nurseries Cafe outside London, with the kitchen led by Skye Gyngell. I loved her first cookbook “A year in My Kitchen,” and I bought this second cookbook “My Favourite Ingredients” without even opening it up. Organized around key ingredients such as Asparagus, Cherries, Olive Oil, Citrus, Pulses & Grains, Honey, Cheese, Chocolate, etc., this is a must-have book for cookbook collectors. All the recipes seem doable, and they look so appetizing, incorporating the freshest ingredients and arranged as though with a painter’s eye for color and composition. I haven’t cooked a single recipe from this book yet, but that’s okay, it’s just so nice to look at and read…

books91

As I state in my “About” section at the top of the Marketmanila.com page, I have middling knife skills. I don’t think I have chopped and cooked enough to develop chef like dexterity with a knife. I am more likely to give myself an unplanned nail clipping than anything else. So in my occasional burst of desire at self-improvement, I bought this book, “Knife Skills Illustrated, A User’s Manual” by Peter Hertzmann. It not only tells me about the different knives and how to care for them and keep them sharp, but also the proper way to cut different types of foods like “Dicing a Potato,” or “De-boning a Chicken.” This is a very skill specific book. If you know how to use a knife without frequently harming yourself, you may not need this book in your library.

books92

“Cracking the Coconut, Classic Thai Home Cooking,” by Su-Mei Yu, simplifies what sometimes seems like a daunting cuisine… Written by an author that is based in California, this is a simplified book, but with recipes that appear to be quite authentic and far from simple tasting… I haven’t cooked anything from this book yet, so I will reserve more detailed opinions for later. There is also an incredible dearth of photos, so you really have to be in it for the recipes…

books93

This 800 page behemoth entitled “A Mediterranean Feast The Story of the Birth of the Celebrated Cuisines of the Mediterranean, From the Merchants of Venice to the Barbary Corsairs, with more than 500 Recipes.” by Clifton A. Wright won the James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year Award. It is several pounds and has no photos. I could stop blogging for a week and still be unable to read through the entire thing. Just got it, but it looks like a must have…

books94

The least attractive and most unpolished (with the exception of the pulutan book) of the bunch, this book called “The Meat Buyer’s Guide” published by the North American Meat Processors Association, is by far the MOST DARNED expensive book of this entire post. It has an almost clinical guide, with photos to every commercial cut of meat sold in America… now if only I had the equivalent translations for Filipino! This is a useful reference material for Marketman.

Arrrghhh, gotta get through most of these books soon, or Santa won’t have any new cookbooks under the tree for me this Christmas! :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. sister says:

    I acquired “Bubby’s Homemade Pies” at a charity silent auction for $40. It came with a pie from the authors, which they still have to deliver. Being the reigning Apple Pie Queen of Union Square I am going to be not an easy customer to please!

    Sep 17, 2008 | 6:37 am

     
  2. Apicio says:

    You know it was only a few clicks ago that I was reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb newest essay. How is that for synchronicity? As if you have time to read outside your self-imposed must reads above, here is the link:

    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/taleb08/taleb08_index.html

    I would concur with your choice of The Mediterranean Feast, daunting in its scope and dimension but a great read.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 6:43 am

     
  3. RoBStaR says:

    For those living in NYC …who are interested in attending an intimate dinner… similar i guess to MM’s blog dinner…chk out the past events for menu’s .. very interesting… and no, am not affiliated nor will get paid.. simply a foodie to another foodie much like everyone who reads MM’s food blog.

    http://foodienyc.com/foodie_events.php

    MM, sorry if this isn’t allowed on your site…just let me know if it isn’t kosher.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 6:52 am

     
  4. RoBStaR says:

    MM, question for you…. if you have to live in a deserted island and are allowed only 5 cookbooks.. which books would it be and why…

    Sep 17, 2008 | 6:58 am

     
  5. wysgal says:

    I’ve been reading the Black Swan for a month now (and I’ve finished maybe 4 or 5 other books in between). He’s an entertaining guy, that Taleb. A little too sarcastic sometimes, but he makes sense. And with the financial markets going to the crapper this week you just have to wonder if he’s already started thinking about his next book …

    Sep 17, 2008 | 8:05 am

     
  6. Doddie from Korea says:

    MM,

    I have chatted with the author of the Knife book, Peter Hertzman. He’s really a nice guy and KNOWS his stuff about knives. He regularly posts in the food forum that I belong to – ww.eGullet.com.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 8:07 am

     
  7. dragon says:

    Hi MM–I have provided you these links a few posts back but I am sending it to you again:

    http://www.globalpinoy.com/recipes/recipe_article.php?articleid=1

    Sep 17, 2008 | 8:12 am

     
  8. dragon says:

    MM the link I sent was for Filipino translation of meat cuts…

    Sep 17, 2008 | 8:13 am

     
  9. Marketman says:

    dragon, thank you so much for that link I have to remember to print it and bring it to the market with me. Doddie, yes, Mr. Hertzman used to teach people how to use their knives properly, talk about specialization! wysgal, yup, just 2 Philippine banks provisioned PHP4 billion to cover losses from Lehman debacle… how’s that for global contagion? RobStar, I presume if I were on a deserted island there would be too many ingredients other than tropical island ones (or at least I am hoping it isn’t an Icelandic island, and so I would have the thickest possible books packed with the most information to keep me busy or from going insane… Apicio, thanks for the link! Sister, I bet you will ask for an apple pie…

    Sep 17, 2008 | 9:23 am

     
  10. Lex says:

    Wow, I am happy to know that my find in the recent Bookfair at SMX was a gem. I chanced upon “The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters” in the bargain racks of A Different Bookstore for P450. I have been enjoying reading it before sleeping. It offers good suggestions and ideas. Being in Berkeley shows her food preferences and advocacies.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 9:29 am

     
  11. Lex says:

    Have you seen a copy of the recently launched cookbook of Cafe by the Ruins? I have nothing to do with the cafe or its authors but it makes interesting reading for those who frequent the place during trips to Baguio. Inside stories written by second generation of the founders of the cafe give a nice insight to growing up in Baguio with all the artists and friends in the last 20 years of its existence. They feature the recipes of the many favorite dishes served there. This was another nice find in the bookfair.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 9:39 am

     
  12. Marketman says:

    Lex, I have heard about the Cafe by the Ruins book, but haven’t seen it. The last time I ate there a couple of years ago, it was pretty bad and I wrote a post to that effect, but I understand the next generation has tried to revive the old menu and dishes… so I suppose its worth a try the next time one is in Baguio… Good find at the A Different Bookstore sale, brand new that book is PHP1,200+

    Sep 17, 2008 | 9:48 am

     
  13. cumin says:

    Oo nga, there were some very good cookbooks at the bookfair in SMX. I haven’t read it yet, but noted that Anvil has just published a book entitled A Taste of Home: Pinoy Expats and Food Memories.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 9:53 am

     
  14. ragamuffin girl says:

    thanks for that link on Pinoy meat cut equivalents dragon! Very very useful! Bookmarked it already. My mom used to run a meat shop in a wet market when I was young, her special service included delivering to the tai-tai’s of New Manila who were too busy or too lazy to go to the market themselves. (I can’t imagine not being there, touching the meat, feeling the buzz, bargaining… I can’t even grocery shop online! I just have to see the food myself.) And yet I am clueless as to the Pinoy terms except for the usual kenchi and kalitiran! How’s that for pathetic? I would just point to the meat instead.

    MM, if I didn’t have about 20 unread books in my shelf, with 3 on my bedside table (including The Art of Eating by MFK Fisher 50th anniversary edition and Choice Cuts by Mark Kurlansky), I would go out and buy The Mediterranean Feast, Simple Food and The Butcher. The covers and authors alone are so tempting…

    Sep 17, 2008 | 10:35 am

     
  15. Fabian says:

    Thanks for sharing. Most of the books you display are very good looking. I enjoyed the Taleb book mostly coz he makes fun of so-called “giants”.

    Books of yours I’d want to read, by priority:
    – A Mediterranean Feast
    – The Art of Simple Food
    – Fat
    – The Butcher

    Sep 17, 2008 | 11:11 am

     
  16. zena says:

    Lex, i’m very envious of your Alice Waters find! I got the 75th Anniversary of The Joy of Cooking in the states (amazon)$4 and it was in brand new condition. I have yet to find time to get past the introduction.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 12:10 pm

     
  17. myra_p says:

    MM, you need to read the Omnivore’s Dilemna. A friend from SF called it vegan propaganda, but i think it’s just a great book full of information about our food sources and the food industry in general.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 1:43 pm

     
  18. Marketman says:

    myra P, I have Omnivore’s dilemma, started it, but put it down. I need to look for it. I think I left it somewhere…

    Sep 17, 2008 | 3:18 pm

     
  19. sister says:

    You have more books coming in the next box, I just got through a number of them and am passing them on to you who has more shelf space! No, I’m not going to challenge Bubby’s, I told them I would leave the choice of pie to them.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 6:46 pm

     
  20. rose says:

    can’t help not share my favorite book about food… FoodTrip by claude tayag……i love how he describes his food finds and adventures!…. same as Marketmanila.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 9:39 pm

     
  21. estella says:

    i do also have that book authored by alice waters. we used to go to chez panisse in the 80’s when we lived in berkeley while my husband was studying in uc berkeley. another restaurant that i missed there is the fat apples…

    Sep 18, 2008 | 5:44 am

     
  22. dragon says:

    You’re both welcome MM & ragamuffin–to complicate matters even more, here in Melbourne, meat cuts are termed differently from US terminology. Plus: measurements are bigger (cup equivalents). So when I’m shopping or cooking, I have my meat charts (conversions), calculator, etc. and the kitchen begins to look more like a chem lab….

    Sep 18, 2008 | 9:47 am

     
  23. Lia Valera says:

    Very interesting bedside reading, MM. As a chef, I keep most of my cookbooks in the kitchen (for quick reference, maybe). To read before I snooze at night, I go for culinary fiction. At the moment, I switch from “The Banquet Bug” by Geling Yan -about a poor factory worker in Beijing who gatecrashes his way through corporate-sponsored banquets by posing as a journalist; and “The Book of Salt” by Monique Truong – a fascinating novel about the brief Parisian life of Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas as seen through the eyes of their Vietnamese chef de cuisine.

    Many thanks indeed for the Pilipino translation of meatcuts. I hope somebody posts a translation of fish and seafood as well.

    Sep 20, 2008 | 9:48 pm

     
  24. RoBStaR says:

    MM,
    Can you recommend a good filipino cookbook? more on the traditional dishes rather than modern.
    I have the philippine cookbook by Reynaldo Alejandro.But other than that, am quite limited in my choices.
    thanks.

    Sep 21, 2008 | 10:28 pm

     
  25. Grace says:

    About the Cracking Coconut, I hope you get to post the result of your cooking based on this book. Thanks.

    Sep 22, 2008 | 2:31 am

     
  26. Marketman says:

    Robstar, do you have the tiny paperback book “Recipes of the Philippines” by Enriqueta David-Perez? It isn’t very well written and it assumes you know what you are cooking, but it covers all the comfort foods and older recipes that you may be looking for. I find the instructions lacking but if you are a decent cook, you will figure them out. If you are based in the U.S., Memories of Philippine Kitchens by the folks who own Cendrillon is worth looking at. Actually, I did a review of that book, its in my archives… Grace, I haven’t tried to cook from that book yet…

    Sep 22, 2008 | 5:09 am

     
  27. RoBStaR says:

    Thank you… much appreciated.

    Sep 22, 2008 | 8:32 am

     
  28. RoBStaR says:

    MM,
    i actually found both books from amazon.com… the recipes of the philippines is a used book datign 1965. who knew amazon would have it.

    Sep 22, 2008 | 8:39 am

     
 

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