Monday, August 20, 2012

What's Cookin' At Boswell Books?

Last week we celebrated the 100th birthday of American icon, Julia Child. In keeping with the spirit, I have selected some hot, new foodie titles definitely worth their salt (and pepper):

America, 1950: A land of "overdone roast beef and canned green beans". Enter Craig Claiborne, a charming and knowledgeable foodie, determined to better American eating habits by introducing the nation to an unexplored gastronomic domain. With his boldly written reviews and recipes in The New York Times, Claiborne pointed the way to the undiscovered culinary riches found right within America's own diverse borders. Thomas McNamee's rich and complex vocabulary absolutely sings in this examination of America's post-war culture (his treatise on the word bullsh*t is fantastic, and is just one of the many complements that make this book so entertaining and hard to put down).

Break out the TV dinners! Mark Kurlansky clearly delights in telling the remarkably interesting history of frozen food, framed by the story of its recondite creator, Clarence Birdseye. Without the quirky and clever Birdseye, it is possible to imagine a world without ice as we know it: the modern convenience that is often taken for granted. An enthusiastic tinkerer, Birdseye discovered the method for freezing fresh food, and thus began a chain reaction of invention and industry that would change the course of history. Kurlansky's contagious, child-like wonder for his subject keeps the book fast and fun, but it is Birdseye's belief in his idea, and his determination to discover the American Dream, that makes this tale truly inspiring.

Those of you who tend to read traditional food magazines, be warned: you may find yourself completely disconcerted (perhaps, at times, even offended) by the defiant, rough-around-the-edges style of Lucky Peach. A collaboration of chefs, food writers, and artists, Lucky Peach is a smorgasbord of essays and rants, unique and re-imagined recipes, art and photography, all pieced together in a beautifully printed layout. Providing a platform for the unorthodox writing style of authors like Anthony Bourdain, Lucky Peach will surely appeal to hardcore foodies and industry diehards - a food magazine with a rock and roll attitude!

After witnessing his performance as contestant on television's Top Chef, I will admit developing unfair preconceptions about Marcus Samuellson. Thankfully, Chef Samuellson's memoir, Yes, Chef sets the record straight, revealing the much more human and fallible soul hidden behind the celebrity chef facade. As a young orphan adopted into a foreign family, Samuellson discovered potential in the cuisine of his new home, Sweden. Nurtured by his adopted grandmother, Samuellson began a grand pursuit of flavor that would carry him around the globe. Yes, Chef is a passionate, honest, and grateful love letter to everyone and everything that has contributed to his success.

When you think of America, what food comes to mind? Hot dogs? Fried chicken? Coca-Cola? For me, there is nothing more American than pie. Ashley English demonstrates that pie is not only a food of America, but also a food like America, in that it so delightfully diverse. You can eat it for breakfast (quiche!), you can eat it for dinner (pot pie!), and of course, for dessert (hooray!). A Year Of Pies: A Seasonal Tour Of Home Baked Pies is cozy and easy, providing step-by-step instructions for the beginner and clever, new tips for the seasoned baker. Sixty beautifully photographed recipes (drool gutter installation may be required) which are sectioned into four groups (one section for each season), allowing the reader to take advantage of ingredients found in the garden or market at any point of the year. If you buy one cookbook this year, make sure it's this one.