When we are passionate about a particular subject, it is pleasing to find a book that approaches it from a new angle, and time spent among its pages is nothing but rewarding. In the case of cooking, there is a sensory joy in carrying out what we’ve read, moving from the pages to the plates. There is also pleasure derived from reading books that reveal what goes on behind the walls of the most renowned kitchens, a delight in the gossip of a tell all. The following books are recommended for those who love food and learning how it comes about.
On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee
A meticulous and encyclopedic book on the history, storage, types, styles, mixtures, and preparations of a wide variety of ingredients. The author has a background in science as an astronomer, then later as a professor in literature and philosophy. McGee has referred to his previous lack of knowledge in the field of cooking as an advantage, as it allowed him to shed prejudices, experiment, and scientifically compare every aspect of the culinary process.
Le Guide Culinaire by Auguste Escoffier
Published in 1903, the aim of this book was the culinary education of new generations and, to date, it is still part of the curriculum in many cooking schools. It includes recipes created by Escoffier for high society, who, at the time, enjoyed dining at the Savoy, Ritz, and Carlton (now Ritz-Carlton) hotels.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
A collection of honest and raw anecdotes about the less glamorous and more demanding nature of the trade, ideal for laughing and empathizing with those who dedicate their lives to cooking. It contains Bourdain’s famous advice not to order fish on Mondays, as it’s probably leftover from the weekend.
White Heat by Marco Pierre White
An essential book for the rockstar chef image, with captivating black-and-white photos by Bob Carlos Clarke. It reveals moments in the kitchen and lifestyle of Chef Marco Pierre White interspersed among recipes and autobiographical passages. It even includes a photo of Gordon Ramsay as a young man.
Cookbooks by El Bulli
El Bulli, Ferrán Adriá’s restaurant, marked an era of gastronomic avant-garde with annual menus that pushed the boundaries of creative and elite cuisine through processes never before used: so-called molecular cuisine. These volumes document the creative and technical process behind each dish, detail its preparation, and include mouth watering images.
The Third Plate by Dan barber
Dan Barber proposes a change to the architecture of the American food industry and argues for a more hopeful and sustainable approach to food systems. Using the analogy of a meal, the first “plate” focuses on meat-heavy and industrial factory farming. The second plate discusses free-range feeding of livestock, as well as organic vegetables. The third involves creating local “micro-kitchen” systems, where seasonal agriculture and crop rotation are deeply connected, respecting the cycles of nature and regional ecology, and making the most of the animals slaughtered. The book can also serve as a guide to healthier eating.