Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Top 5 quirky food books

List by Annie, Central Library

I have long believed that good food, good eating is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure.
~ Anthony Bourdain

From my posts, anyone would think I liked food and cooking. Well, I do, but more from a theoretical point of view, really.

I’m fascinated by the history of food and its impact on society – now and in the past. Oh, and if there happens to be a couple of recipes thrown in, I might even be tempted to try them out.

Honourable mentions:
What the great ate : a curious history of food and fame / Matthew Jacob and Mark Jacob ; with illustrations by Rick Tuma.
No recipes (worse luck) but a collection of interesting / intriguing anecdotes about people and food.

Mosh potatoes : recipes, anecdotes, and mayhem from the heavyweights of heavy metal / by Steve Seabury ; foreword by Chris Caffery ; introduction by Luke Tobias.
This held so much promise – and it still has an appeal, but some of the ingredients might be difficult to source in New Zealand.

In the devil's garden : a sinful history of forbidden food / Stewart Lee Allen.
Filled with incredible history and the author's travels to many of these exotic locales, In the Devil's garden also features recipes like the Matzoh-ball stews outlawed by the Spanish Inquisition and the forbidden "chocolate champagnes" of the Aztecs. This is truly a delectable book that will be consumed by food lovers, culinary historians, amateur anthropologists, and armchair travelers alike.

Pick your favourite sin and find the food that most represents it. Informative, fun and thought-provoking.

The fearless diner : travel tips and wisdom for eating around the world / Richard Sterling.
The editor of the award-winning "Travelers' Tales Food" has done it again with this pocket companion for those who like to see the world through food. Bold epicures will find all the tips and wisdom needed to feast with savages, break bread with kings, and get invited home to dinner. Look it up. It's a literary mess kit.

Because you never know when you need tips on how to survive at a formal banquet… and it’s always handy to know that you have to drink all the vodka in a bottle once it’s opened while in Russia.

A taste of history : the stories behind our favourite foods / Bryan Bruce.
Where did the first tomato come from? What spice was more valuable than gold? Develop a taste for history with this fascinating illustrated book on travel, food and cooking. Chocolate and sex - who started the rumour? What vegetable began a social revolution? Open your pantry door and discover a world of mouth-watering tales of love, lust, jealousy and hate, enterprise and folly - all based on the discovery and development of everyday cooking ingredients. Along with the stories of the origins and history of our favourite foods are classic recipes from around the world.

A chatty, self-confessed self-indulgent look into the history of some foods, including chocolate, sugar, coffee and potatoes.

The year of eating dangerously / Tom Parker-Bowles.
The year of eating dangerously is an account of Tom Parker-Bowles's global odyssey in search of culinary extremes. Bored by the increasingly homogenised fare doled up by the supermarkets and charisma-drained establishments in the UK, he sets out to discover the most exotic food from around the world - the edible products of landscape and history, moulded by peoples and cultures entirely different from our own, and now in danger of disappearing entirely. Passionate about local foods and conserving culinary cultures, this is a subject close to Tom's heart, as he seeks out the links between home, food and happiness.

So many of the adventures begin along the lines of ‘I knew I shouldn't have drunk so much the night before…’. Some might be put off by some of his foodie adventures – I took comfort in the fact it wasn’t my stomach involved… His other books are equally amusing E is for eating : an alphabet of greed and Full English : a journey through the British and their food.

Simmering through the ages / by Roland Rotherham, in cahoots with Simon Smith ; photographs
A collection of unique and mouthwatering recipes from the annals of history brought back to life by culinary historian, Professor Roland Rotherham. Written with humour and translated from many different historical sources, this book provides a veritable feast of fabulous food and fascinating facts from the Pharaohs' banquets of Ancient Egypt through to the decadent splendour of the Victorian tea table.

This is a delight. Truly quirky, and packed full of recipes – adjusted for the modern palette. I flicked through it, and decided then and there that my dinner that night would be ‘Shrimps Bruges’ – they were amazing. I lent the book to my mother, who now has lots of recipes to try out.
I’m hoping we can persuade someone in the family to host a mid-winter Christmas and try out some historic Christmas-type food.
My ideal dinner menu, all from recipes in this book is (currently!):
Entrée: Shrimps Bruges (17th century Flemish)
Salad: Coriander and Pine Nut (Crusader)
Main: Roast hand of stuffed pork accompanied by Crumbed beans
Pudding: Tart of Strawberries
After: Royal Shortbread
Then… cheese, to close off your stomach, in traditional Medieval style.

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