Friday, May 23, 2014

On My Shelf and My Plate

So the idea has sprung to mind that I wanted to discuss a few things I have in my culinary library that probably aren't in yours. Everyone's at least heard of the Joy of Cooking and a few of the more famous Chefs all have their books out, but I have a few (shall we say) niche titles I think need to get a wider spread.

The first is the instant go-to: On Cooking, specifically the 4th Canadian Edition. This book was my textbook in college and will probably be my touchstone for the years of apprenticeship to come. While the recipes inside are all rather staid and either common classics or somewhat-passe trends, the true value of the book is its focus on technique and theory over individual recipes, and for that it's rather invaluable, because it puts you in a position to actually write the recipes. Oh, and as an added bonus, it correctly lists all recipes in mass units (imperial AND metric) rather than volume units. Most professional cooks in Canada will obviously have heard of this book, but there are plenty of non-professional cooks who take the trade at least as seriously and I imagine you could use the knowledge contained within rather aggressively.

The second niche cookbook on my shelf is the exceptionally well-done Tide's Table by Ross and Willa Mavis, and if you're trying to figure out why the name of the book sounds familiar, that's because that was actually the dining room that I ran and the associated kitchen I managed while working for Ross and Willa briefly at Inn on the Cove - before it closed its doors, of course. The book, which was a wonderful book I would have happily bought had it not been given to me for my birthday, was the book on which a lot of our menu hung at Tide. Not only that, it's a pretty good distillation of what Atlantic Canadian cuisine really is, at least on the homegrown level. There are some necessary items I would say are not in the book if you want to call it the true bible of Atlantic Canadian cuisine, but its accessibility and relative completion are major, major selling points. I'm not sure Ross and Will are still in the business at all, either, so now that I am thinking about it, the copy I have may be among the last copies ever sold.

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