A cooking book recommendation: Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea by Jeff Koehler

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/1UqpijM.
This is such a richly digressive book. Mystical experiences, language and literature…history, local atmosphere by the potful and even, at the end, recipes for local delicacies…
Book description from Google Books:
Darjeeling’s tea bushes run across a mythical landscape steeped with the religious, the sacred, and the picturesque. Planted at high elevation in the heart of the Eastern Himalayas, in an area of northern India bound by Nepal to the west, Bhutan to the east, and Sikkim to the north, the linear rows of brilliant green, waist-high shrubs that coat the steep slopes and valleys around this Victorian “hill town” produce only a fraction of the world’s tea, and less than one percent of India’s total. Yet the tea from that limited crop, with its characteristic bright, amber-colored brew and muscatel flavors–delicate and flowery, hinting of apricots and peaches–is generally considered the best in the world.This is the story of how Darjeeling tea began, was key to the largest tea industry on the globe under Imperial British rule, and came to produce the highest-quality tea leaves anywhere in the world. It is a story rich in history, intrigue and empire, full of adventurers and unlikely successes in culture, mythology and religions, ecology and terroir, all set with a backdrop of the looming Himalayas and drenching monsoons. The story is ripe with the imprint of the Raj as well as the contemporary clout of “voodoo farmers” getting world record prices for their fine teas–and all of it beginning with one of the most audacious acts of corporate smuggling in history. But it is also the story of how the industry spiraled into decline by the end of the twentieth century, and how this edenic spot in the high Himalayas seethes with union unrest and a violent independence struggle. It is also a front-line fight against the devastating effects of climate change and decades of harming farming practices, a fight that is being fought in some tea gardens–and, astonishingly, won–using radical methods. Jeff Koehler has written a fascinating chronicle of India and its most sought-after tea. Blending history, politics, and reportage together, along with a collection of recipes that tea-drinkers will love, Darjeeling is an indispensable volume for fans of micro-history and tea fanatics.
The book is rated 3.90/5 at goodreads.com, from 135 ratings. See 33 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1Og0uyC.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2tinCU2.

A cooking book recommendation: Sweeter off the Vine: Fruit Desserts for Every Season by Yossy Arefi

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/28MKGkg.
A large part of what makes the book sing is how Ms. Arefi, who lives in Brooklyn but who grew up in Seattle, combines flavors in a way that is utterly modern and often intriguing.
Book description from Google Books:
A cozy collection of heirloom-quality recipes for pies, cakes, tarts, ice cream, preserves, and other sweet treats that cherishes the fruit of every season. Celebrate the luscious fruits of every season with this stunning collection of heirloom-quality recipes for pies, cakes, tarts, ice cream, preserves, and other sweet treats. Summer’s wild raspberries become Raspberry Pink Peppercorn Sorbet, ruby red rhubarb is roasted to adorn a pavlova, juicy apricots and berries are baked into galettes with saffron sugar, and winter’s bright citrus fruits shine in Blood Orange Donuts and Tangerine Cream Pie. Yossy Arefi’s recipes showcase what’s fresh and vibrant any time of year by enhancing the enticing sweetness of fruits with bold flavors like rose and orange flower water inspired by her Iranian heritage, bittersweet chocolate and cacao nibs, and whole-grain flours like rye and spelt. Accompanied by gorgeous, evocative photography, Sweeter off the Vine is a must-have for aspiring bakers and home cooks of all abilities. From the Hardcover edition.
The book is rated 4.09/5 at goodreads.com, from 88 ratings. See 30 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/28KhtIk.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2t4cc6e.

A cooking book recommendation: Contraband Cocktails: How America Drank When It Wasn’t Supposed To by Paul Dickson

A critic review (source NY Journal of Books) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2cv8bmU.
Contraband Cocktails is a fabulous work that ought to be in any hipster’s library or on the reading list of faux-speakeasy bartenders, but otherwise absolutely anyone with a fascination for the 1920s, who loves The Great Gatsby (films or book), or who are interested in the history of alcohol will definitely need to read this.
Book description from Google Books:
Americans weren t supposed to drink during Prohibition but that s exactly when cocktail culture came roaring to life. The Bloody Mary, sleek cocktail shakers, craft mixology, and hundreds of other essentials of modern drinking owe their origins to the Dry Years. In “Contraband Cocktails,” Paul Dickson leads us on a fascinating tour of those years from the Man in the Green Hat making secret deliveries to Capitol Hill, to “The Great Gatsby” s Daisy pouring Tom a mint julep at the Plaza, to inside the smoky nightclubs of the Jazz Age Dickson serves up an intoxicating tale of how and what Americans drank during Prohibition. Chock-full of scandalous history, cultural curiosities, and dozens of recipes by everyone from Ernest Hemingway to Franklin D. Roosevelt along with a glossary of terms that will surprise the most seasoned bartender Paul Dickson s “Contraband Cocktails “is the perfect companion to any reader s Cocktail Hour.”
The book is rated 3.79/5 at goodreads.com, from 24 ratings. See 3 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1S0iWMf.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2tcvnL3.

A cooking book recommendation: 100 Million Years of Food: What Our Ancestors Ate and Why It Matters Today by Stephen Le

A critic review (source Globe and Mail) can be read at: https://tgam.ca/1V0g3ef.
This kind of view, given our current cultural obsession with particular diets, leaves me hungry for more of his work.
Book description from Google Books:
A fascinating tour through the evolution of the human diet, and how we can improve our health by understanding our complicated history with food.There are few areas of modern life that are burdened by as much information and advice, often contradictory, as our diet and health: eat a lot of meat, eat no meat; whole-grains are healthy, whole-grains are a disaster; eat everything in moderation; eat only certain foods–and on and on. In 100 Million Years of Food biological anthropologist Stephen Le explains how cuisines of different cultures are a result of centuries of evolution, finely tuned to our biology and surroundings. Today many cultures have strayed from their ancestral diets, relying instead on mass-produced food often made with chemicals that may be contributing to a rise in so-called “Western diseases,” such as cancer, heart disease, and obesity. Travelling around the world to places as far-flung as Vietnam, Kenya, India, and the US, Stephen Le introduces us to people who are growing, cooking, and eating food using both traditional and modern methods, striving for a sustainable, healthy diet. In clear, compelling arguments based on scientific research, Le contends that our ancestral diets provide the best first line of defense in protecting our health and providing a balanced diet. Fast-food diets, as well as strict regimens like paleo or vegan, in effect highjack our biology and ignore the complex nature of our bodies. In 100 Million Years of Food Le takes us on a guided tour of evolution, demonstrating how our diets are the result of millions of years of history, and how we can return to a sustainable, healthier way of eating.
The book is rated 3.53/5 at goodreads.com, from 202 ratings. See 31 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1V0g2H8.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2t934NJ.

A cooking book recommendation: Chicken in the Mango Tree: Food and Life in a Thai-Khmer Village by Jeffrey Alford

A critic review (source Toronto Star) can be read at: http://bit.ly/1hHDusZ.
Alford’s many years of experience as a cookbook writer have paid off: The recipes in Chicken in the Mango Tree are both intriguing and approachable — at least the ones that involve accessible ingredients. For those that don’t, he offers pretty handy suggestions for substitutions.
Book description from Google Books:
In the small village of Kravan in rural Thailand, the food is like no other in the world. The diet is finely attuned to the land, taking advantage of what is local and plentiful. Made primarily of fresh, foraged vegetables infused with the dominant Khmer flavours of bird chilies, garlic, shallots and fish sauce, the cuisine is completely distinct from the dishes typically associated with Thailand.Best-selling food writer and photographer Jeffrey Alford has been completely immersed in this unique culinary tradition for the last four years while living in this region with his partner Pea, a talented forager, gardener and cook. With stories of village and family life surrounding each dish, Alford provides insight into the ecological and cultural traditions out of which the cuisine of the region has developed. He also describes how the food is meant to be eaten: as an elaborate dish in a wedding ceremony, a well-deserved break from the rice harvest, or just a comforting snack at the end of a hard day.Chicken in the Mango Tree follows the cycle of a year in Kravan, and the recipes associated with each seasonsteamed tilapia during the rainy season, mushroom soup, called tom yam het, during the cold season, rice noodles with seafood during the hot months and spicy green papaya salad as comfort food all year round. With helpful substitutes for the more exotic ingredients and cooking methods, Alford’s recipes and stories blend together to bring a taste of this little-known region to North American homes.
The book is rated 3.29/5 at goodreads.com, from 14 ratings. See 6 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1hHDut2.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2ti4plw.

A cooking book recommendation: Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea by Jeff Koehler

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/1UqpijM.
This is such a richly digressive book. Mystical experiences, language and literature…history, local atmosphere by the potful and even, at the end, recipes for local delicacies…
Book description from Google Books:
Darjeeling’s tea bushes run across a mythical landscape steeped with the religious, the sacred, and the picturesque. Planted at high elevation in the heart of the Eastern Himalayas, in an area of northern India bound by Nepal to the west, Bhutan to the east, and Sikkim to the north, the linear rows of brilliant green, waist-high shrubs that coat the steep slopes and valleys around this Victorian “hill town” produce only a fraction of the world’s tea, and less than one percent of India’s total. Yet the tea from that limited crop, with its characteristic bright, amber-colored brew and muscatel flavors–delicate and flowery, hinting of apricots and peaches–is generally considered the best in the world.This is the story of how Darjeeling tea began, was key to the largest tea industry on the globe under Imperial British rule, and came to produce the highest-quality tea leaves anywhere in the world. It is a story rich in history, intrigue and empire, full of adventurers and unlikely successes in culture, mythology and religions, ecology and terroir, all set with a backdrop of the looming Himalayas and drenching monsoons. The story is ripe with the imprint of the Raj as well as the contemporary clout of “voodoo farmers” getting world record prices for their fine teas–and all of it beginning with one of the most audacious acts of corporate smuggling in history. But it is also the story of how the industry spiraled into decline by the end of the twentieth century, and how this edenic spot in the high Himalayas seethes with union unrest and a violent independence struggle. It is also a front-line fight against the devastating effects of climate change and decades of harming farming practices, a fight that is being fought in some tea gardens–and, astonishingly, won–using radical methods. Jeff Koehler has written a fascinating chronicle of India and its most sought-after tea. Blending history, politics, and reportage together, along with a collection of recipes that tea-drinkers will love, Darjeeling is an indispensable volume for fans of micro-history and tea fanatics.
The book is rated 3.90/5 at goodreads.com, from 135 ratings. See 33 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1Og0uyC.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2tinCU2.

A cooking book recommendation: The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks by Toni Tipton-Martin

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/1OriaRO.
Tipton-Martin collects all this lore with care and dedication. The men and women found in these pages are the real heroes and heroines of American cooking.
Book description from Google Books:
Winner, James Beard Foundation Book Award, 2016Art of Eating Prize, 2015BCALA Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation, Black Caucus of the American Library Association, 2016Women of African descent have contributed to America’s food culture for centuries, but their rich and varied involvement is still overshadowed by the demeaning stereotype of an illiterate “Aunt Jemima” who cooked mostly by natural instinct. To discover the true role of black women in the creation of American, and especially southern, cuisine, Toni Tipton-Martin has spent years amassing one of the world’s largest private collections of cookbooks published by African American authors, looking for evidence of their impact on American food, families, and communities and for ways we might use that knowledge to inspire community wellness of every kind.The Jemima Code presents more than 150 black cookbooks that range from a rare 1827 house servant’s manual, the first book published by an African American in the trade, to modern classics by authors such as Edna Lewis and Vertamae Grosvenor. The books are arranged chronologically and illustrated with photos of their covers; many also display selected interior pages, including recipes. Tipton-Martin provides notes on the authors and their contributions and the significance of each book, while her chapter introductions summarize the cultural history reflected in the books that follow. These cookbooks offer firsthand evidence that African Americans cooked creative masterpieces from meager provisions, educated young chefs, operated food businesses, and nourished the African American community through the long struggle for human rights. The Jemima Code transforms America’s most maligned kitchen servant into an inspirational and powerful model of culinary wisdom and cultural authority.
The book is rated 4.07/5 at goodreads.com, from 92 ratings. See 27 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1Orib8l.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2tdZYrS.

A cooking book recommendation: Contraband Cocktails: How America Drank When It Wasn’t Supposed To by Paul Dickson

A critic review (source NY Journal of Books) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2cv8bmU.
Contraband Cocktails is a fabulous work that ought to be in any hipster’s library or on the reading list of faux-speakeasy bartenders, but otherwise absolutely anyone with a fascination for the 1920s, who loves The Great Gatsby (films or book), or who are interested in the history of alcohol will definitely need to read this.
Book description from Google Books:
Americans weren t supposed to drink during Prohibition but that s exactly when cocktail culture came roaring to life. The Bloody Mary, sleek cocktail shakers, craft mixology, and hundreds of other essentials of modern drinking owe their origins to the Dry Years. In “Contraband Cocktails,” Paul Dickson leads us on a fascinating tour of those years from the Man in the Green Hat making secret deliveries to Capitol Hill, to “The Great Gatsby” s Daisy pouring Tom a mint julep at the Plaza, to inside the smoky nightclubs of the Jazz Age Dickson serves up an intoxicating tale of how and what Americans drank during Prohibition. Chock-full of scandalous history, cultural curiosities, and dozens of recipes by everyone from Ernest Hemingway to Franklin D. Roosevelt along with a glossary of terms that will surprise the most seasoned bartender Paul Dickson s “Contraband Cocktails “is the perfect companion to any reader s Cocktail Hour.”
The book is rated 3.79/5 at goodreads.com, from 24 ratings. See 3 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1S0iWMf.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2tcvnL3.

A cooking book recommendation: Wine in Words: Some Notes for Better Drinking by Lettie Teague

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2d7rwJN.
Ms. Teague shares her knowledge of and love for wine with an easy charm and a sure touch. Often, she matches the skill of her own mentor, Irish wine merchant Peter Dunne…
Book description from Google Books:
Delectably brief essays that tell you only what you need to know to enjoy wine. There are wine encyclopedias, bibles, and guides—this is not one of those books. It doesn’t contain everything, just the really important stuff: the truly key wines, grapes, regions; tips about wine buying, aging, and storage; and useful explanations about tasting notes and whether or not vintages really matter. In short, this book covers the real absolutes that you need to know about wine.With the pithy wit that readers of her columns have come to expect, Lettie Teague breaks down the stumbling blocks that often intimidate us and clears up the myths that cloud our understanding. A series of mini-essays cover the essentials in a fun, omnibus fashion. The tone is sometimes irreverent, sometimes opinionated, but always practical. For instance, there are entries such as “The Unbearable Oakiness of Being,” “Can Wedding Wine Be Good,” and “Why You Really Need Only One Glass.” Other entries may provoke some lively debate, such as “Men Are from Cab, Women Are from Moscato” and “In Defense of Wine Snobs.” The opposite of a didactic textbook, this volume is not meant to be read from start to finish. Instead, like wine itself, it encourages small contemplative sips. It is a companion for the modern taster, a concise and curated collection of tidbits to satisfy anyone with a lively curiosity and palate.
The book is rated 4.06/5 at goodreads.com, from 17 ratings. See 5 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1QqEy03.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2t6CjcJ.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A cooking book recommendation: 100 Million Years of Food: What Our Ancestors Ate and Why It Matters Today by Stephen Le

A critic review (source Globe and Mail) can be read at: https://tgam.ca/1V0g3ef.
This kind of view, given our current cultural obsession with particular diets, leaves me hungry for more of his work.
Book description from Google Books:
A fascinating tour through the evolution of the human diet, and how we can improve our health by understanding our complicated history with food.There are few areas of modern life that are burdened by as much information and advice, often contradictory, as our diet and health: eat a lot of meat, eat no meat; whole-grains are healthy, whole-grains are a disaster; eat everything in moderation; eat only certain foods–and on and on. In 100 Million Years of Food biological anthropologist Stephen Le explains how cuisines of different cultures are a result of centuries of evolution, finely tuned to our biology and surroundings. Today many cultures have strayed from their ancestral diets, relying instead on mass-produced food often made with chemicals that may be contributing to a rise in so-called “Western diseases,” such as cancer, heart disease, and obesity. Travelling around the world to places as far-flung as Vietnam, Kenya, India, and the US, Stephen Le introduces us to people who are growing, cooking, and eating food using both traditional and modern methods, striving for a sustainable, healthy diet. In clear, compelling arguments based on scientific research, Le contends that our ancestral diets provide the best first line of defense in protecting our health and providing a balanced diet. Fast-food diets, as well as strict regimens like paleo or vegan, in effect highjack our biology and ignore the complex nature of our bodies. In 100 Million Years of Food Le takes us on a guided tour of evolution, demonstrating how our diets are the result of millions of years of history, and how we can return to a sustainable, healthier way of eating.
The book is rated 3.53/5 at goodreads.com, from 201 ratings. See 31 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1V0g2H8.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2t934NJ.