Books I love. In no particular order.
The Oxford Companion to Food
Ever wonder where fat-tailed sheep live? Or the history of dumplings? If so, this is the book for you. It's an indispensable kitchen reference.
Schott's Food and Drink Miscellany
I love this fun little book with random facts about food and drink. Here's one: the flesh of the tapir is said to taste like beef.
Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life
I love Jamie Oliver.
How can you not love Jamie Oliver? From his pinchable cheeks to his amazing food to his food politics - he's got it all. I really admire what Jamie has done for the sustainable food movement: he focuses on local, sustainable food without hitting you over the head with his politics. The food and the photography in Jamie's Italy is something special. I just can't say enough good things about this guy. Jamie, are you listening?
Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook
I'm not sure I really even need to write a review of this book - it's pretty obvious that it's good and awesome and all that, with Alice Waters being the high-priestess of local, sustainable food. It's got a really pretty cover, too. Seriously, though, the recipes in this cookbook are pretty great.
The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii's Culinary Heritage (A Kolowalu Book)
Part history, part anthropology, part culinary - this is my kind of book. In fact, it's one of my favorite cookbooks ever, and not just because it reminds me of Hawaii. I often use cookbooks as guidebooks when I travel, because I like to understand the culinary history of the places I go. I used this book on a recent trip to Hawaii - sure, the beaches are stunning in Hawaii - but my lord, the food! It's amazing. Hawaii's food is so fascinating - it i an amalgam of so many different cultures and their unique roles in Hawaii's history. Rachel Laudan really captures this in her book and I can't get enough of it. Can you tell I heart Hawaii? I really do.
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
Is it me, or is everything out of Michael Pollan's mouth sheer genius? The guy should get the Nobel Prize. Read this book. It's really, really eye opening.
Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables
I like this book because it's not conventional. Like my friend Farmer John himself - The Farmer John Cookbook does things just a little bit differently. It's organized by season and includes recipes, musings by Farmer John, and lots of information about biodynamic farming. It's a great book to turn to when you've run out of ideas for what to do with kohlrabi and all of those other vegetables in your CSA box or at your farmer's market.
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
If you think that Indian cooking is too hard - the multi-talented Madhur Jaffrey will set you straight. It's all about timing - when you saute the onion or add the spices really makes such a difference in the finished product. Just pay close mind to Madhur and you can't go wrong - there is not a single recipe dud in the bunch. I'm thinking about the green beans with green chilies and yogurt right now...
True Thai: The Modern Art of Thai Cooking
We went to Thailand for our honeymoon and ate a lot of really really good Thai food. (And I'm convinced I messed something up by eating insanely spicy food for 2 weeks straight.) We got home and realized that most of the Thai food we'd been eating wasn't very good at all! It was a revelation. So I got this book, headed off to Bangkok Mart in Chinatown to track down keffir limes and holy basil, and started cooking Thai food that tasted like the food we had in Thailand. Another cooking obsession was born.
The River Cottage Meat Book
This is such a beautiful book. A seriously fantastic book. It's got everything you ever wanted to know about (sustainable) meat: butchery charts, pictures of various organs, step-by-step guidelines on how to break down a chicken, how to preserve meat...and so much more. And Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's "Meat Manifesto" is one of the most important bits of food writing in a long time, me thinks. An excerpt from the manifesto: "Think about the meat that you eat. Is it good enough? Are you among the millions of consumers putting pressure on farmers to produce mountains of cheap meat of dubious quality, by dubious means?" (That's just the first bullet. It gets better from there.) Oh, and I've had my eye on the pork pie recipe for a long time. I'll make it soon.
Au Pied De Cochon The Album
You should get in the car (or hop on a train) and go immediately to Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal. This is one of my favorite restaurants in the world - the restaurant's name means "with the pig's foot." I had headcheese nuggets the last time I was there. Do I really need to say more? This book is one part cookbook, one part restaurant biography and it makes me happy just looking at it...dreaming of the next time I'll visit Montreal and Au Pied De Cochon.
The Taste of Country Cooking
Edna Lewis was cooking seasonally before it was trendy to do so - it was simply the way she and her family lived on their family farm. Her recipes flow from season by season, using ingredients we think of as "gourmet" today - sorrel, fresh thyme, fish roe. A true farmhouse cookbook, Miss Lewis's stories and anecdotes are a joy to read.
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
Want to know why your biscuits rise? Or the reason your steak gets brown and crusty when you sear it in a hot pan? (spoiler: it's called the maillard reaction) Look no further - Harold McGee will answer all of your questions on the intersection of science and food.
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
In my opinion, one of the best cookbooks of all times. Period.
The Silver Spoon
This book has every Italian recipe you could ever want or need. Seriously.
The Gourmet Cookbook: More than 1000 recipes
Clear, concise, and huge in scope - the Gourmet cookbook is a reference we go back to again and again.