I am often asked.. “What is your favorite cookbook?” or “What cookbook could you never live without?” or something of the like. Well, yes I am a cookbook addict. I admit it. I am sucker for cookbooks of all kinds especially ones with pretty photos, not just usual photos though, you know the photos that you can taste and smell (well imaginatively speaking of course). Some chefs claim that the best cookbooks don’t have photos. I can understand this statement from an educational perspective however we all know “pretty” sells. I have cookbooks ranging from culinary text, yard sale finds to best sellers. I use them all for inspiration and love different perspectives on cooking and styles. So, I really can not say that I have any favorites.
However, that being said, I recently had a conversation with a client who asked if I had any recommendations. Immediately the title The Food Bible came out of my mouth. The client responded by questioning, “Because it has the best recipes?” I replied, “No actually it does not!” What is does have is much more valuable. The Food Bible is truly an “indispensable guide to creativity and flavors….” Anyone can read a recipe. And in most cases with some experience in the kitchen anyone can be successful. What I teach in my classes is creative thinking beyond the recipe. I guide people in their understanding of ingredients and how to pair them with other ingredients and tailor them to personal tastes.
If you are looking for inspiration then I highly recommend The Food Bible. A recipe is a recipe and in most cases does not ignite creativity. The Food Bible lists, in alphabetical order, ingredients (hopefully some new ones for the reader) their season, taste, function, weight, volume, most common cooking techniques, tips for using the ingredient, compatible flavor combinations, and ingredients to avoid with it.
What differentiates a good home chef from a great home chef, is not only mastering the art of technical cooking but also the art of ingredient selection, preparation, and flavor compatibility. Food need not be complicated if paired appropriately.