The Flavor Bible turns 1

When Thea and I were thinking about this website, I mentioned people would be interested in her reviews of her many cook books.  She looked at me for a second,  then dashed over to her bookcase, and grabbed a book:

“I just love this book!” she said, waving ‘The Flavor Bible.

That was the first  book she reviewed on Amazon (Thea’s book reviews appear on Thursdays on this blog).   We were surprised and delighted to immediately receive a lovely email from the writers, Karen and Andrew, thanking Thea for her review!

Today, Publisher’s Weekly is celebrating the one-year anniversary of this excellent book. If you haven’t checked out, you should definitely put it on your ‘must-buy’ list!

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(review reprinted from April 2009)

flavorbible3‘How do you know what goes with what?’

Lucille had asked me several times over the Christmas break, as we chatted happily and celebrated Christmas together at my Dad’s place in Ontario. Lucille is Joanna’s brilliant best friend, a multi-lingual vivacious Italian New Yorker, now living in Montreal. She is a super foody – she loves to talk and she loves great food – we were having fun, and I could she was seriously interested.

I thought of Lucille immediately when I spotted ‘The Flavor Bible’ at a bookstore in Vancouver, several days later. I was amazed and delighted when I started flipping through it – I knew immediately I had to have this book. I bought two copies, one for me and one to send to Lucille.

This book is brilliant! Flavors are arranged alphabetically, and each flavor is examined in delicious detail.

Say you want to do something with Apples, for example. Flip to the section on Apples, and you get such facts as season, taste, function, weight, and volume; a list of cooking techniques, a lengthy list of flavors and ingredients that combine well with apple, Next you get tips and dishes from famous chefs (such as Emily Luchitti of Farallon, or Michael Laiskonic, from Le Bernardin). Finally you get my favorite part, the Flavor Affinities, a deliciously-detailed list (apples + almonds + caramel or apples + cinnamon + dark chocolate + yams, for example). It’s so cool! I love it!

Ok, let’s try something else, something savory. Foie Gras. Again, a nice list of complementary ingredients – including allspice, Armagnac, cherries, figs, grapes, rhubarb! Dishes like Carrie Nahabedian’s Foie Gras with Roasted Plums. Bob Iacovone from the Cuvee in New Orleans, talking about stuffing Twinkies with foie gras (hmm) And of course the Flavor Affinities, including foie gras + strawberries + black pepper. Yum.

And there is more. You can also find these detailed flavor guides listed by regions, with sections such as Portuguese, Spanish, Cajun, or Thai cuisine, including of course those wonderful Flavor Affinities. Being from a German background, I took a look at the 10 different listed Flavor Affinities for German Cuisine. The list – including such favorites as ginger & sauerbraten; dill + cucumbers; cream + paprika + poppy seeds – is quite accurate, definitely convincing me the Flavor Bible knows its way around a kitchen.

Needless to say, Lucille was thrilled with the book, and has been using it daily. I have a standing invitation to stay with her and husband Valmont in Montreal. I must take them up on that!

For a chef, this book will open up cooking opportunities that may have been forgotten, and offer some new viewpoints. For a committed or curious foodie it is an exciting guide to ingredient combination and flavor opportunities. This is a great book, and I am sure you will love it as much as I do!

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