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Best of Lists.... Cookbook Edition

One of the things that has kept me interested in the printed word during my winter with crime fiction was cookbooks. At this point I do not have the proper words to describe the attraction as I cook very little from cookbooks or related food magazines. Pretty pictures and wish fulfillment are about all I have at the moment to explain my curiosity.

I know some people find Top Ten lists odious and beside the point, but I like to call those people crazy. Top Ten lists are harmless fun. Here are seven recent ones for the best cookbooks of 2011.

The New York Times list is insistent that their readership expand their global view of cooking. I love those weighty tomes about Middle Eastern cooking and the like. Perhaps it is a bit naive  to only praise these books for their pictorial beauty, but living where I do invariably means using Google to search for 'substitute for X exotic spice.' My picks from this list are Tender by Nigel Slater and Hugh Acheson's A New Turn in the South

The Bon Appetit list was complied by the owners of Rabelais bookstore in Portland. It is a pretty populist list, Mission Street Food, Milk Bar, and Joe Beef are the more well known titles to appear. If I had to pick a title to add to my shelf it would be Bocca Cookbook by Jacob Kenedy. I'm a sucker for cool looking dust jackets and things that are in London.

The Amazon list is a spare but culturally accepted ten titles. The only list so far to include the hugely acclaimed Gabrielle Hamilton memoir. I guess that title will pop on Best Bio lists. The Modernist Cuisine book makes an appearance, as does the third incarnation of Alton Brown's amusing Good Eats series. I'd go with M. Pepin's Essential Pepin if I could. Maybe I will.

The Huffington Post borrows BA's annoying slide show display, which is troubling. Claudia Roden's The Food of Spain peeks its head out again as does Andrew Carmellini's vaguely right wing sounding American Flavor. I'll be coming into a little money in the next week. And with those tens of dollars I'll be picking up Heston Blumenthal at Home.

Epicurious adds the Blumenthal book to their list, along with The Homesick Texan and Truly Mexican. I've read some of Michael Ruhlman's non-fiction on cooking but none of his more directly related food missives. The book I'd grab here is Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.

The NPR list begins with me questioning that this might be the longest post of THD 5 year existence. Anyway, I ran across Molly Stevens book, All About Roasting, a month or so ago. It immediately spoke to my Midwestern sensibilities for its obvious practicality. I'm going to eat meat, so lets figure out how to cook it without destroying it.

Serious Eats restricts their list to the time test number of 10. Mario Batali appears with his Simple Family Meals. I read Heat earlier this year and I found Mr. Batali to be kind of a douche. However as near as I can tell he writes a hell of a cookbook. The Ruhlman and Camellini books show up again, but I might have to go with the Batali from this crowd.

-- Additions 12/5  --

The San Francisco Chronicle's main list focuses on books released in the last couple months. A secondary list goes over books released earlier in the year. In the main list is the Pepin book, along with the Ruhlman. The Eleven Madison Park and The Food 52Cookbook has also been a popular choice among a couple lists. The SF Chronicle list of course picks a handful of SF centric titles, but the one that intrigues me the most is The Whole Beast Butchery by Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats.


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