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The Year's Best Cookbooks/Food Books

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In 2006 I was partial to The Sweet Life by Kate Zuckerman and Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma. What are other hounds' favorites?

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  1. Heat by Bill Buford. I read it twice.

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    1. re: Seattle Rose

      I also like The Omnivores Dilemma, and Julia Child's My Life in France.
      For cookbooks right now I am really enjoying Braise by Daniel Boulud.

    2. I haven't made anything from it yet, but I've been having so much fun reading The Sweet Life. I just love the way she explains the why and the how of things in her "Beyond the Basics" sections.

      1. Arthur Schwartz's NEW YORK CITY FOOD. Even if you are not from the Big Apple (and I'm not), Schwartz documents the history of how each culture that settled in America influenced our way of life. (And you can see how those influences then went West.) Included in the book are great original recipes and personality profiles. Outstanding reading.

        1. The new Anthony Bourdain "Les Halles" cookbook is a decent read. It's half "more Bourdain for you Bourdain junkies" and half bistro cooking that you could probably pull off at home if you mail-order some demi-glace and get to know your butcher.

          "The Nasty Bits" is a great ransacking of Bourdain's hard drive. Like reading a blog that he's kept for the last twenty years.

          Hands-down, however, is Heat, mentioned above. Bill Buford has the gift of the best New Yorker writers in that he can make absolutely any subject interesting, and that his subject is Mario Batali's superhumanly gluttonous and hedonistic life...I've picked over the book a good dozen times since reading it through. It's "Down and Out in Paris and London" done right -- the high-end food service world seen through the honest eyes of an interloper.

          Ruhlman's new "The Reach of a Chef" is good, steady Ruhlman reading in the reverential Ruhlman vein. Every flicker of Thomas Keller's eyebrow is given biblical portent, etc, etc.

          1 Reply
          1. re: orezscu

            Love your characterizations . . . spot-on about Heat.
            I'll wait enthusiastically for The Nasty Bits to arrive . . .

          2. Has anyone read "United States of Arugula?" It got a good writeup in the New York Times & I was thinking of picking it up.

            2 Replies
            1. re: daveklop

              I was disappointed by "The United States of Arugula." It seemed mostly restaurant gossip.

              This year I have been very impressed by "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and also by "Heat," which my husband is currently devouring. The latter has sent me on a polenta and pasta binge that bodes ill for my waistline, or what's left of it.

              Gael Greene's autobiography was an embarrassment.

              The Ruhlman books are alwys good, but indeed, they are reverential.

              1. re: jillp

                Reading Gael Greene's book made me feel sadness more than anything else.
                Wow. So many of us are more interested in food, its origins, its connotations, than the lifestyle...and then we read of someone (Greene) who is playing fast and loose with the food world. Maybe it was the era. Right now, I think most of us watch every penny when we are buying "foodie" food.
                Loved, with some reservations :), Ruth Reichl's books...Greene doesn't compare. As much as I ate to say it.