Young and Hungry

What Cookbooks Do Local Food Writers Favor?

My friend and food writer, Melissa McCart, recently asked a bunch of us food scribblers what cookbooks we like. For someone like me, it's sort of like asking what children's books I enjoy. It feels like it's been a long time since I regularly cracked open a cookbook to actually cook something. Such a sad, sad state of affairs.

Anyway, I digress. McCart has published the results of her informal survey on her blog, Counter Intelligence, which has suddenly adopted a nice, wintery theme. Go check it out. It's very interesting to see what cuisines and what techniques and even what subjects our local writers like to read about—or worry about, as the case may be.

As for me? As usual, I busted deadline and sent my picks in late. My two current favorites are listed after the jump.

1. As you can probably guess, I don't cook as much as I used to. When I do, though, I often turn first to Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, even if I don't end up using his recipe. I do so because Bittman's recipes, to me, are like baselines. I trust Bittman to understand the fundamentals of a recipe, even if I want to try something a little different. Plus, Bittman's breadth of knowledge just blows me away. I've been reading the James Beard Cookbook lately, which I like, but Bittman's book goes places that Beard never even thought about. It's not fair, perhaps, to compare the two books, but I think the point I'm trying to make is that Bittman is as ambitious as any cookbook author to come along.

2. I got Simon Hopkinson's Roast Chicken and Other Stories for Christmas last year and immediately fell in love with it. Hopkinson organizes his chapters by favorite ingredients, which he understands perhaps better than any chef on earth (or, to tone down the rhetoric, any other chef I've spoken to). Plus, he writes with humor and passion and insight on these ingredients. I don't often cook from this book, but I turn to it to get Hopkinson's insights.

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