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Food Reads for the Holidays

November 23, 2023

The holidays are upon us friends. If you are still looking for some great food options to serve your friends and families, check out these foodie reads. Then go party hearty, Marty!

Have you ever wondered why biryani tastes so yummy? Or what the Maillard Reaction is or what spices taste like what? If you said yes to any of these questions, then this book is for you. I’ve read a handful of books like this - that focus on more on the process and decision making of cooking as opposed to just following a recipe. But all of them have been for Western food. My favorite of these is Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio - which I still use to make homemade pasta to this day. This book is like that, but for Indian food, specifically working towards mastering biryani. I’ve had biryani and enjoyed it, but I don’t think it was anything like this recipe. This was a very interesting read and I may have to dig into it more and explore this cuisine for myself.

I love every cookbook from Milk Street (except Tuesday Night Suppers for some reason). This latest offering is no different. When I first checked out the book and was looking at the recipes, my husband kept saying, “That one looks good” or “Ooo, make that one next.” This book has Italian noodles, Asian noodles, and things that are noodle-adjacent like spaetzle. I haven’t exhaustively cooked from this, but we’ve enjoyed all the noodles I’ve tried. My favorite part is that the recipes are usually quick and most of the ingredients are easily sourced. If you are looking for some new ideas to spice up your kitchen, check this one out.

I had this book sitting on my desk a while before I realized that this was written by the older brother from Newsies. Not Christian Bale. The other guy. Yeah him. I know, right? Anyway, David has spent his post-Newsies life traveling the world to source local ingredients to make delicious dishes with famous chefs. I thought this sounded fun, until I read about some of the things he had to do. Diving for shellfish? Um…shellfish yes, diving no. Drinking goat blood. Just no. I’m also not a fan of eating raw meats - which happened a decent amount. The book was an interesting read and there is a TV show that goes along with it. If you are interested, you can check it out here or NPL has Season Two on DVD. 

I’m a little late to the Top Chef game. I don’t know why I never watched Bravo when I had real TV, but it never made it into my lineup. I was probably busy watching The Big Bang Theory for the millionth time on TBS. Anyway, now that I’ve found Top Chef (on Peacock), I am learning what all the past hype was about. I’d already heard about Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio as host and head judge, but I had no idea who Gail Simmons was. Gail is no slouch in her own career, but I feel like I identify with her the most out of all the judges. She’s just a regular girl who likes to eat food. It was fun to get her story and learn more about her background when she’s not sitting at the judging table. This is ILL’er, but it was definitely worth the effort.

I should start this by saying that not every part of this one is strictly about food. We also get to talk about Faberge eggs, pysanky (or wax egg drawing), and clown eggs. I’ll pause to let that sink in for a minute…eggs with clown faces painted on them. That’s actually someone’s job. To paint the faces. Ok. Moving on. So anyway, the author really loves eggs. She and her dad spend many a day experimenting with them in the kitchen. It was their bonding time. Then during COVID, while she was quarantined and dealing with fertility issues (eggs again right), she started to explore. If you are looking for a great cookbook that’s all about eggs, maybe check out Michael Ruhlman’s Egg: a culinary exploration of the world’s most versatile ingredient. That’s my fave. But if you just want to read about the Incredible Edible Egg, this book is for you.

So those are my best food reads from the past year. I hope they inspired you. Wishing you and yours the best holiday season full of lots of love and yummy treats.

Happy fooding…
:) Amanda

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Amanda is a classically-trained pianist who loves to read. Like any good librarian, she also has two cats named after Italian cities. Amanda spends her free time sitting in Nashville traffic, baking, and running the Interlibrary Loan office at the Nashville Public Library.