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According to Michel Roux Sr, most food books aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. He may have a point. Here’s a round-up of some of the better food books of 2013.
Noma: Work in Progress
by René Redzepi, Phaidon
The moment you flick to the foreword by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, you realise that this is no ordinary cookbook. In fact, it’s three books, none of which could be described as ordinary. But then this is the work of René Redzepi, so what did you expect? The main book is a journal, an honest day-by-day account of the warp-drive environment at one of the world’s best restaurants, a meditation on creativity, fame, pressure and near madness supported by some mind-bending recipes and a flick-book of candid snapshots. Extraordinary.
Mastering The Art Of Soviet Cooking
by Anya Von Bremzen, Doubleday
Life in a crowded Soviet-era Moscow apartment block was no picnic for young Anya Von Bremzen. In 1974, at the age of ten, she fled to America with her mother, but this touching memoir is packed with nostalgia for the flavors and aromas of her Russian childhood. Set against a backdrop of disastrous government agricultural policy, the tribulations of World War II, Stalin’s terror and the eventual fall of the Soviet Union, it’s a story about a family and the food that helped them through some turbulent times.
by Heston Blumenthal, Bloomsbury
Part book, part ornament, this hefty, illustriously bound, cased and gilded tome is the latest offering from revered food alchemist Heston Blumenthal. Digging the depths of British culinary history to restore forgotten traditional recipes to their former glory, it’s a lavish exploration of the concept behind Heston’s London restaurant, Dinner. Twenty-eight dishes - from ragoo of pigs’ ears to mock turtle soup - are plotted on a timeline, each placed in historical context and enlivened with irresistible illustration and photography.
by Tim Hayward, Fig Tree
Bored with pre-packed supermarket smoked salmon? Then smoke your own in a gym locker with this vivid and entertaining DIY guide. Writer, editor and have-a-go food hero Tim Hayward’s insightful instruction manual reveals the secrets behind making your own favorite foods at home. Anybody who loves bacon, butter, bread, cheese, pickled vegetables, cappuccino and sloe gin, can arm themselves with this handy book, roll up their sleeves and get cracking in the comfort of their own kitchen.
Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen
by Martin Morales, Weidenfeld &Nicolson
Martin Morales’ book comes just as the world wakes up to Peruvian cuisine. His home country has two restaurants on the current World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (Astrid Y Gaston and Central), and its Mistura food festival is the biggest in Latin America. But it’s the recipes of Ceviche, Morales’ London restaurant and pisco bar, that bring this book to life. Beautiful photography and touching personal anecdotes evoke the spirit of Peru, while recipes extend far beyond the citrus-cured raw fish dish that give Morales’ restaurant - and this book - its name.
Eat: The Little Book Of Fast Food
by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate
With over 600 recipes - from fig and goat’s cheese focaccia, to roast vegetables and garlic mayo - the celebrated BBC presenter and Guardian food writer Nigel Slater’s latest fast food book isn’t quite as little as its title suggests. The stocky stocking filler is a fail-safe kitchen standby when time and inspiration is short and you’re hankering for something substantial and decadent.
DOM: Rediscovering Brazilian Ingredients
by Alex Atala, Phaidon
Alex Atala is big news. He was the only chef to be named among Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2013, and his DOM restaurant in Sao Paulo is currently at No. 6 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. This book encapsulates the spirit and ethos of the irrepressible chef, whose dedication to Brazilian ingredients - especially those found in the Amazonian rainforest - has helped establish Latin America firmly on the world food map.
Le Livre Blanc
by Anne-Sophie Pic, Jacqui Small
LLP Not to be confused with the Jean Cocteau book of the same name, Le Livre Blanc is the first cookbook translated into English by French chef Anne-Sophie Pic. That Pic was the fourth female chef ever to win three Michelin stars - at her Maison Pic restaurant in Valence - might be reason enough to give this book your attention, but the sumptuously pure all-white design, enticing photography and inspirational contemporary French recipes really seal the deal.