This Saturday the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards will be given in Paris, and although the slideshow of finalists is devilishly difficult to navigate, it was worth the time to struggle with the awkward presentation. A straightforward list of the books would have been helpful, but oh well.
First and foremost, seeing The Cookbook Library by Anne Willan with Mark Cherniavsky and Kyri Clafin as the selection for the Gourmand Cookbook Hall of Fame is a pleasure. I read it last summer and learned a great deal about the history of cooking while enjoying the beautiful illustrations. Highly recommended to everyone interested in food history and fine cooking. Willan is on Twitter (@AnneWillan) and she sometimes links to her La Varenne cooking school website when she posts a new recipe. I have added a couple of these to my Pinterest board of Recipes To Try.
My resolve to put the brakes on book buying was broken when this book showed up as a finalist in the Culinary History category: Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brûlée: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America by Thomas J. Craughwell (Quirk Books). It had received some positive reviews, but the Gourmand nod makes it a must read for those of us interested in both food history and American history.
Participants in the Weekend Cooking blog posts will recognize among the finalists several books reviewed favorably by home cooks this year, including American Grown by Michelle Obama (Crown Books), and Twist It Up by child chef Jack Witherspoon (Chronicle Books).
This week I read through a Kindle edition, via library, of Katie Workman’s The Mom 100 Cookbook and thought it was a solid cookbook for young mothers but not for me. After years of cooking, I already have versions of most of those recipes elsewhere, and her amusing patter–reminiscent of The Pioneer Woman’s blog--was wasted on me but would probably appeal to the intended audience. Then it shows up as a finalist in the Children’s cookbook category at the Gourmand awards, and that designation makes perfect sense. Good for her.
American cooking as world cuisine never would have crossed my mind, but cookbooks on American food by writers from Japan, Germany and France for their domestic readership are finalists. Four of the five books in this category were not published in the USA. International cookbook authors are showing an interest in cooking of the American South: Soul Food from Germany and A Taste of the Southern Home from Japan. Who woulda thunk? It is delicious food. Why not?
The book on US cooking likely to end up on my shelves is the James Beard Foundation Best of the Best: A 25th Anniversary Celebration of America's Outstanding Chefs by Kit Wohl and Susie Cushner (Chronicle). Cannot wait to get my hands on this one.
The legion of Jamie Oliver followers will want to know that Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals (Michael Joseph) is a finalist in the UK Television category. As a new convert to the cooking of Yotam Ottolenghi, I will be cheering for his Jerusalem, A Cookbook (Ebury) in the Mediterranean Cuisine category, even though my cooking of his recipes has been from the book Plenty, and the other cooks are unknown to me. That’s what it means to be a fan, as in fanatic, I guess. Whatever O. prepares is fine by me and bound to be better than anything else on offer. That is completely unfair to the other cookbooks, including the LaSalette Cookbook (Henrique and Henrique) by Portuguese-American chef Manuel Azevedo, a finalist alongside Ottolenghi. A peak at the index shows some mouth-watering dishes that may be a bit more complicated or expensive than I want right now. It would be fun to read, though.
Vegetarians might like to check out Eat Raw, Eat Well (Robert Rose) by Canadian Douglas McNish. If I did not already have enough baking books, Bread Revolution: Rise Up and Bake (Murdoch Books) by Duncan Glendenning and Patrick Ryan of the UK would be a possible purchase here. Kicky title.
So, so many great cookbooks to enjoy. I have been putting some of these titles up on my Goodreads.com Want-To-Read shelf, and this weekend my Cookbooks To Investigate board goes public on Pinterest, with more great-sounding books nominated for Gourmand awards. At the moment, books on the cooking of India and China are looking promising.
Oh, and one more thing, many thanks to the Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK for publishing the book by Philip K. Wilson and W. Jeffrey Hurst, Chocolate as Medicine: A Quest over the Centuries. I’m in.Weekend Cooking is a feature of the Beth Fish Reads blog. Click for links to food posts by other bloggers. Usually you will find some great recipes, photography, cookbook reviews and other food-related posts.