Since The Cake Bible was published 20 years ago, there have been so many books using the B word I'm expecting a whole section in the book stores devoted to food bibles. "What's in a name? That which we call a rose...." of course is true up to a point, but I don't need to tell you what's in the name "bible" and if you're going to use it as part of the name of your book it had better be one. The Flavor Bible is. If you look up the word bible in the Encarta Dictionary, after you get past the first few religious connotation definitions, you'll find the one that best applies here as well: "essential book: a book that is considered an authority on a particular subject." Written by my esteemed friends and colleagues Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, The Flavor Bible not only fits this definition it offers something beyond bible that is rare and precious: true originality. There is not a single recipe in the book--this is not about learning how to roast a chicken---it's about understanding taste, flavor synergy, ingredients--what they are and how they work with each other. Beautifully organized alphabetically by ingredient and also including ethnic cuisine, each ingredient is coded for weight, volume, technique, and tips (occasionally function as in sesame oil: "heating"). Studded throughout the book are quotes, concepts, and tips from illustrious chefs, past and present, and other notables such as the response of U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic when asked in an interview "What advice would you give to people who are looking to be happy?" His answer: "For starters, learn how to cook." And here's a great tip from one of my favorite chefs, Michèl Richard (who is a perfect example of happiness, married many years with more children than I can remember). He uses miso broth instead of chicken for his onion soup. This is one of Andrew's favorite tips as well. Karen intrigued me with Dominique and Cindy Duby's clever idea to alternate slices of apples and eggplant in a tart because the absorbent eggplant soaks up the juices of the apples to keep the tart less soggy -- so much so that the eggplant tastes like apple! Karen said "We haven't tried it yet ourselves, but the logic made immediate sense." Yes indeed it does and I can hardly wait to see for myself! This book will soon have you thinking like a food professional. It will change your approach to how you look at food and ingredients. Here's how it works: A food professional approaching something new first smells, then tastes, and then the sensory brain starts spinning trying to imagine what it would enhance! An example of one of my most startling food synergies: several years ago I had just perfected a passion ice cream and happened to notice that my windowsill rosemary was in bloom with exquisite little lavender flowers. Rosemary leaves are resinous and intensely overpowering for something as subtle though singular as passion fruit but the flowers had a flavor all their own--almost impossible to describe and somehow I immediately thought to garnish the icecream with them. Both visually and gustatorially they provided a whole new and heavenly dimension to the ice cream. Read this book from cover to cover. It's an education. Even if you never intend to cook a thing as long as you live it will indeed make you happier. It will make eating more enjoyable and you'll never again have to feel uncomfortable in a restaurant wondering exactly what you're ordering. The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs on Amazon.
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