Food, Glorious Food
In this issue devoted to cookbooks, we use a sophisticated algorithm: First, is there bacon? (What happened to bacon cookbooks? Where is this year's I Love Bacon! or Everything Tastes Better with Bacon?) Next, is there chocolate? (Chocolate figures prominently in our staff meetings--dark chocolate with pink peppercorns, dark chocolate with grey sea salt, dark chocolate with... dark chocolate, with a few milk chocolate outliers.) Also, is it spicy? We're suckers for spicy food, harissa being the current favorite condiment.
We love cookbooks, and we like to read about food: cooking it, sharing it and occasionally screwing it up. In Man with a Pan, John Donohue combined 21 writers and chefs, 13 "civilians" and 21 New Yorker cartoons to whip up a tasty mix of more than 60 recipes, cookbook recommendations and 34 sweet, funny stories about men cooking. Mark Bittman talks about parenthood and the necessities of daily life that taught him to cook. Jim Harrison, delightfully opinionated, proclaims, "Currently the overuse of rosemary among bad cooks in America must be viewed as a capital crime."
Sharing food in unlikely places is showcased in Eating Mud Crabs in Kandahar. Matt McAllester collected stories from war correspondents about memorable meals. Our reviewer said, "Despite fear for their own safety under the threat of constant violence, these writers cannot escape the essential human need for food nor the equally strong need for companionship. Huddled in a foxhole or around a smoky campfire, they find both--and often a liberal dash of humor and goodwill--in the most unlikely of places."
"Comfort food" is the big deal now, and we all know what it means to us. But any food can be comfort food, especially when shared, and there are books for every taste that will send you into the kitchen or to a comfy sofa with a smile; as restaurant servers now say, "Enjoy!" --Marilyn Dahl