Holiday Gift Suggestions, Chapter 3: Cookbooks and Culinary Literature

Fat Today on BC Almanac I talked about some of my book suggestions as gifts for this holiday season.  My list was long, and I didn't get to mention everything, but here is my list.  Many of these books are available at Barbara-jo's Books To Cooks in Vancouver, when I get a chance I will also put links from the books to, where you can save lots off of the cover price when you make an online order.

Here we go:


Fat, by Jennifer McLagan  -  all about cooking with animal fat, butter, lard, duck and goose fat, suet, etc.

A16, Food + Wine, from an Italian restaurant I went to in San Francisco, authentic dishes from Campagna and beyond, a lot of southern Italian specialties.

The Main, by Anthony Sedlak.  From the Food Network Canada show of the same name.  Easy, approachable cooking.

In the Kitchen with Anna, by Anna Olson, also of Food Network Canada.  A little more challenging, but great classic recipes kicked up a notch with a little story telling and background on the cooking techniques as well.

Bon Appetit:  Fast, Easy, Fresh.  A tome with 1100 quick dishes from the magazine.

The Genius of James Barber, his best recipes, and stories and recipe contributions from some of his best friends in the business. (including me!)

A great standby:  How To Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman.  If there’s anything you don’t know how to cook, this book has the answer.  Now available in paperback.

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook.
  If you want to splurge on the foodie who has everything…go for this one.  An art book and a cookbook all in one, it is by Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck restaurant in London.  List price on this one is $275!  Some stores or online booksellers may sell for less.  Really a book for chefs, also anything that talks about sous-vide cooking is really a book for chefs, as most home cooks don’t have the equipment you need to vacuum pack and simmer a dish for hours at an exact temperature.

Also for chefs, the A Day at El Bulli cookbook.  Let’s you know what happens at one of the most famous restaurants in the world, in Spain, near Barcelona.  Good luck getting a reservation….live it through the book instead.

The River Cottage Meat Book, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.  This is a British guide to using all parts of the animal by a cook who is very popular in Britain for his River Cottage cookbooks and tv shows and newspaper columns.  His nickname?  Hugh Fearlessly Eats It All.


For kids:  Here’s part of a story from a New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope:
“Of course, there have long been cookbooks aimed at children. But this batch (all the titles here are from this year) is not only unusually large, but also points in a new direction — going beyond cookies and other treats to teach children to cook main courses and side dishes, like roast chicken and brisket.

Jill Bloomfield, who (with Rabbi Janet Ozur Bass) wrote “Jewish Holidays Cookbook” (DK Publishing).

Other new cookbooks along these lines include “Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook” (Simon & Schuster); “The Second International Cookbook for Kids” by Matthew Locricchio (Marshall Cavendish); “Grow It, Cook It” (DK Publishing); and “Yum-o! The Family Cookbook” by the omnipresent Rachael Ray (Clarkson Potter).
Meanwhile, Nintendo is heavily advertising a cooking tutorial called “Personal Trainer: Cooking,” for use on its DS handheld game system. It includes videos of cooking techniques and more than 240 dishes from countries around the world.

While much of this new push is fueled by marketing, it does have a worthwhile health message. Studies suggest that when children are involved in meal preparation, they are more likely to try new foods.”

Food History:

Food and Feasting in Art
by Sylvia Maliguzzi, for the foodie and art lover.

The Taste of Conquest:  the Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice by Michael Krondi.  What are the Three Great Cities of Spice?  Venice, Lisbon and Amsterdam.


My Life in France, by Julia Child, about her years there with her husband as a newlywed and new cook.  1948-1954.  Fascinating!  And reveals how she learned to cook.

Eat, Memory, a collection of essays from the New York Times newspaper, edited by Amanda Hesser, a great food writer herself.  But in this book the writers are not necessarily food writers, but they are all writing about a particular food memory they have.

Finally, How To be A Better Foodie, by Sudi Pigott

Packed full of advice on how to just know more about food.  It’s a British book, so a few references that will be obscure for us, but very valuable nonetheless.  Great glossaries explaining chocolate, trends, and bits of animals you’ve never heard of before.

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