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June 17, 2008

Favorites From My Library

I have a problem. I collect cookbooks and I can't stop! At present, it's probably upwards of 350 cookbooks. I'm going to begin a list some of my favorites, with links to Amazon. If you happen to decide to buy them through these links, I'll get a little Amazon credit, and you can be my enabler. Thanks!!

For Everyone:

This is the classic American cookbook. There's actually a bit of drama surrounding this book. In the 90's, it was revised and expanded to include all sorts of new cuisines, to mirror what was happening in American food. The family of the original authors apparently didn't like the new expansion, and later took editing control back. But this is the version I have, and I love it. The recipes are structured in a sequential way, which I think is brilliant, since most cooking is process oriented.

Another great all around cookbook, written by David Rosengarten. He was one of the original Food Network hosts, who would do extensive reseach on the particular dish at hand. I also like this book because it discusses the aesthetics behind the recipes and the choices.

Although there is science in it, a very readable and usable reference to help anyone figure out why a recipe isn't working.

This is a helpful book about the creative process - in whatever medium you choose - not just painters and novelists and musicians. I find it so valuable that I've probably given it away to over 25 people over the years. HIghly recommended.

For Professional Cooks:

As Bourdain says, the argument ender. Although rooted in European food, contains at least simple entries to just about any ingredient as well.

For all the lip service that cooks and chefs pay to the importance of sharp knives, a surprisingly large proportion don't REALLY understand their knives or the sharpening process. As far as I'm concerned, this book should be required reading for every culinary student and every professional cook.

For me, this is a timeless book, with elegant ideas taken to the nth degree. I'd say one of the most influential on me, even though his style is so different.

This is the best book I've found so far on Spanish used in kitchens and restaurants. Besides food words, there's phrases for interviewing, giving instructions, and other situations that might come up if you were a chef, manager, or owner of a restaurant.

If nothing else, read the first few chapters, which offer an eloquent rebuttal to vegetarianism, and discusses the politics of meat in general.

Although this is a new book, it's become one of my instant favorites. He has a powerful mix of traditional technique, global perspective, and originality that results in some dynamic and wonderful food.

Although there are a ton of books about French techniques, this is the daddy. Yes, you've probably seen a lot of it on TV already, but this is the source.

June 13, 2008

Dos Años

It's just past the two year anniversary of when I originally posted An Unabridged Glossary of Mexican Slang for Cooks. In that time, I've moved on to a different restaurant, but I've continued to add words and correct their definitions as they've come up. And I'll continue to do so.

Incidentally, the best book I've found for proper kitchen and restaurant Spanish is Stainless Steel Translations...English to Spanish for Restaurants and Commercial Kitchens. The pronouciation guide is pretty gringo, so use a little imagination to sound more authentic. Nevertheless, I highly recommend it.

The original caveat still applies: "A lot of of it is crude and rude, locker room-type language, so if you are offended by that sort of thing, don't read further. If I have any of the definitions or spellings wrong, please feel free to comment and correct me."

An Unabridged Glossary of Mexican Slang for Cooks