An idiosyncratic list of great books, many of them lesser-known,
all available from
(click on the titles for ordering info)

Reviews are by Jim Leff unless otherwise credited.  
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Restaurant Guides and General Chowhounding
General Chow Writings and Histories
Chow Reference
Not About Food
Chow Films (separate page)




The Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lovers Companion to the South
by John T. Edge
Published by Hill Street Pr, 2000
We'll have a full review soon, but for now we'll say this: fun-to-read book (even vicariously for non-travellers), extremely snazzy in design, and Edge is a God when it comes to southern chowhounding. Must own.

The Palmetto State Glove Box Guide to Bar-B-Que : The Complete Statewide Guide to Bar-B-Que in South Carolina
by BBQ Digest, Todd Stadman, Todd Steadman, Harris Hollans, Chris Pomar, Scott Walton
Published by Longstreet Press 1997
An indispensible guide to barbecue in South Carolina, written with unmistakably chowhoundish passion. Must own. Note: there is a "Glovebox Guide" series put out by another publisher that is a whole different deal...only this volume and the one below are recommended.

Alabama the Heart of Dixie Glove Box Guide to Bar-B-Que
by BBQ Digest, Todd Stadman, Todd Steadman, Harris Hollans, Chris Pomar, Scott Walton
Published by Longstreet Press 1997
Another classic by the same bunch of authors as the title just above, but this one's tragically out of print. Amazon will search for it for you, though.

The Peach State Glove Box Guide to Bar-B-Que : The Complete Statewide Guide to Bar-B-Que in Georgia
by Steve Storey, James R. Lockhart, Jim Lockhart
Longstreet Press, 1977
A third, by most of the same authors as the two titles above, but this one's ALSO out of print, alas. Amazon will search for it for you, though.
For in-depth reviews of the Lonely Planet World Food series, see our special report.

Counter Intelligence : Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles
by Jonathan Gold
St. Martin's Press, 2000
No-nonsense package filled with good writing and all manner of excellent chow. L.A. deserves a proper guidebook to the nooks and crannies of its food culture, and only Gold has the encyclopedic knowledge to pull it off. There is no choice: every Angeleno chowhound (and all visitors to the city) must own this book. The writing's engaging enough to make this a must-buy even for armchair hounds interested in vicarious chowhounding.

The Bialy Eaters: The Story of a Bread and Lost World
by Mimi Sheraton
Bantam Doubleday Dell, 2000)

"The story of Ms Sheraton's search for the origins of this marvelous bread first baked in the Polish town of Biaystok. It is a story of a town that once had fifty thousand Jews and by the end of the Nazi Holocaust only five thousand remained. A must read for all who chrish the meaning of bread and the human spirit." (Barry Kaufman)
Good & Cheap Ethnic Eats in New York City
by Robert Sietsema
Paperback, 256 pages
Published by City & Co, 1997
The Village Voice critic's "best-of" reviews, collected from his fanzine, Down the Hatch (I also write a column for that 'zine, but this book--like the well-received edition that preceded it--is culled entirely from Sietsema's, no conflict of interest; I'm out of this loop). Sietsema has a particular love for the unusual dishes and cuisines, and scouts and explains culinary exotica with exhaustive (and well-humored) thoroughness. Special strength: nobody comes close when it comes to tracking and explaining local African cooking. Plus...he's hip!
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$25 And Under 1998: A Guide to the Best Inexpensive Restaurants in New York
by Eric Asimov
Paperback, 272 pages
Published by Harper Collins 1997
Eric Asimov might not read as gung ho as Levine or Carter, nor does he rival Sietsema's insatiable appetite for the unusual and exotic. But year after year he finds good--sometimes great--places, and reports on them thoroughly and reliably in a forthright, good-humored style that serves well to cajole his more skittish NY Times readership to Brooklyn soccer parks or Harlem soulfood joints. Asimov's especially good at covering the narrow (but fast-growing) moderate priced sector between chi-chi and down-home that other food writers neglect.
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New York Eats (More)
by Ed Levine
Revised & Updated Edition
Paperback, 400 pages
Published by St. Martin's Press 1997
I haven't seen this latest edition, but the original was terrific: full of contagious enthusiasm and ernest, savvy advice on shops and takeout places all over the city. Levine works hard to keep quality-driven little places in business (this book sells well enough to have a big impact), and chowhounds owe him a debt of gratitude for it. Fact checking was reportedly pretty weak this time, so call places ahead.
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Manhattan User's Guide: The Guide to New York for New Yorkers
by Charles A. Suisman, Carol Molesworth
Published by Hyperion 1996
One of my favorite books of all time was the NY Bargain Hunter, a little yellow book crammed with dense type and arcane symbols that told where to get just about anything in the city. It was full of obsessively-gathered advice and compulsive detail. Manhattan User's Guide, a wonderful newsletter, is a more high-toned modern day descendant of the old Bargain Hunter, and this book--aimed much more at value than bargain hunting--is a phenomenally useful best-of compendium. If Suisman and Molesworth lack some of the maniacal thoroughness of their forebear, they make up for it with elegant design and consistently impeccable taste. There are also plenty of restaurant tips, mostly middle tier "nice" places with a few forays above and below.
Tokyo City Guide
by Mayumi Barakan, Judith Connor Greer
Published by Charles E Tuttle Co 1996
I'm ecstatic that this book is back in print. Even if you have no plans to visit Japan, BUY IT. This is the most complete guide imaginable to the culture in general and Tokyo places to shop/visit/eat in particular, written by savvy/passionate Tokyo insiders. On a trip to Tokyo years ago, this book led me to secret, inexpensive little restaurants that to this day make Japanese friends wag their heads in amazement; "Jim, how did you FIND that place? Tourists NEVER go there!". Also included: a WONDERFUL overview on Japanese food (as eaten in Japan, which is very different than Japanese food here) that makes this a must-buy even for those sans travel plans. Also all manner of info on Tokyo shopping, transportation, hotels, culture, everything you could imagine (even info on day trips outside the city). It's my favorite practical guidebook, period.
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Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country
by Lolis Eric Elie, Frank Stewart
Reprint Edition
Paperback, 240 pages
Published by North Point Pr 1997
"Simply the best book on barbecue I've ever read" says Eric Asimov, and I agree. There are sooo many bbq books out there, and most are pretty lame. But this one's different. Forumite Elliot Apter makes awesome 'cue, and is extremely knowledgable about barbecue history and techniques from Memphis to Texas. Here's what he has to say: "Smokestack Lightning is not a cookbook; it's chowhounding, pure and simple. The subtitle says it all: "Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country." The adventures all occur in the mouth; this is a diary of the author's travels as he spends a summer crossing the country sampling BBQ. He visits big, famous restaurants, roadside stands, and home Sunday family BBQ. Elie is in love with--and offers rich folklore and sociological observations of--the people and places as much as the food itself, and he brings the reader along for the ride. Fewer than a dozen pages of of this two hundred page book are devoted to recipes and techniques; that's not the emphasis. It won't sit in your kitchen; it will sit by your easy chair.


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by Poppy Z. Brite
Paperback, 352 pages
Revised Edition
Published by Three Rivers Press 2004
Brite, a Chowhound contributor (under the nom de poste "Doc"), has written a wonderful novel about two New Orleans "yats"  Rickey and G-Man -- who start their own restaurant based on the brilliant (for the Crescent City) proposition that all of the dishes will feature liquor. The book is by turns hysterically funny and poignant, populated by characters who could only spring from the mind of an observer steeped in the traditions of the life and lifestyle of New Orleans and its restaurant scene. Highly recommended. (Kirk Brewer)
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Up in the Old Hotel
by Joseph Mitchell
Paperback, 716 pages
Revised Edition
Published by Vintage Books 1993
"Written so evocatively it makes you want to weep" (Jonathan Gold)
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Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Hardcover 307 pages
Published by Bloomsbury Pub Plc USA 2000
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Bone in the Throat
by Anthony Bourdain
Paperback, 304 pages
Published by Bloomsbury Pub Plc USA 2000
"Kitchen Confidential made me laugh out loud when I was sitting in a room all by myself. Now, how many books can you say have made you do that?" (Melissa Garland)
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Beautiful Swimmers
by William Warner
Paperback, Reprint Edition
Published by Little Brown & Co 1994
"About crabs in the Chesapeake Bay" (Jonathan Gold)
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The Food of France
by Waverly Root
Paperback, 450 pages
Reissue Edition
Published by Vintage Books 1992
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The Food of Italy
by Waverly Root
Paperback, 750 pages
Reissue Edition
Published by Vintage Books 1992
Recommended by Steve D.

Giving Good Weight
by John A. McPhee
Noonday Pr 1994
"[Not otherwise food related, but] it contains two essential essays: the title piece (the definitive look at the New York Greenmarket), and "Batterie de Cuisine," (for my money, the best profile of a chef ever written)." (Steven Stern)

Simple French Food
by Richard Olney, Patricia Wells (Introduction), James A. Beard
Paperback, 448 pages
Reprint Edition
Published by Hungry Minds, Inc 1992
A list of titles by Richard Olney
"Olney's books constitute some of the best writing there is, period. Simple French Cooking may be the best cookbook of the last 30 years, and despite the name, is the absolute cornerstone of post-Alice Waters American cuisine. There are more ideas, more poetry in one of Olney's headnotes than there are in most 300-page cookbooks" (Jonathan Gold)
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Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit
by Mort Rosenblum
Paperback, 352 pages
Published by North Point Press 1998
"I've been reading a lot about olives and olive oil, and this is the best stuff I've found so far" (Jim Dixon)

A Goose in Toulouse and other Culinary Adventures in France
by Mort Rosenblum
Hardcover 320 pages
Published by Hyperion 2000
"Thoroughly enjoyed" (Pat P.)
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Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants
by Wolfgang Schivelbusch
Paperback, 236 pages
Reprint Edition
Published by Vintage Books 1993
Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants and Intoxicants"...a bit dry in parts, but it's very informative." (Janet A. Zimmerman
Note, for other titles by Schivelbusch, see the Not About Food section.
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The Man Who Ate Everything
by Jeffrey Steingarten
Paperback, 515 pages
Published by Vintage Books 1998
"Yes, he's obsessed and pedantic at times, but, I don't know, I guess I ended up liking that about him." (Janet A. Zimmerman)
"This guy basically risked his life to consume authentic choucroute (as detailed in one of the essays in this book). Now that's a chowhound. I found some of the book a little bit pedantic (several essays are devoted to "healthy" eating, fat in food, etc.), but I did learn a lot." (Melissa)
"I felt as though I was slogging through a college textbook at points. His delight in serving his wifey Promise spread sort of disturbed me as well." (byran)

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Between Meals
by A.J. Liebling
Paperback, 185 pages
Published by North Point Press 1986
"One of the best books about eating and drinking ever written -- he describes how he learned to appreciate good food and wine in Paris in the '20s, and he's very infectious (he inspired me with a passion for Cote-Rotie that lasted until the prices went stratospheric)" (Steve D.)
"One of my favorites" (Pat P.)
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Honey from a Weed : Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades, and Apulia
by Patience Gray, John Thorne
Paperback, 384 pages
Published by The Lyons Press 1997
"A wonderful, evocative portrayal of mediterranean village foodways, experienced through several years living among the stones and fragrant herbs" (Jen Kalb)
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The Best Thing I Ever Tasted: The Secret of Food
by Sally Tisdale
Paperback, 311 pages
Published by Riverhead Books 2001
"Part history, part sociology and part memoir, Tisdale's book treats subjects ranging from Martha Stewart to Betty Crocker, the changing 20th century kitchen to diets and nutrition. Tisdale's organization is more than a bit confusing, as she switches from her mother's dinners to the history of processed food to her own experiences in a commune, but her writing is evocative and very well-executed. You may not know where she's going, but you'll enjoy the ride nonetheless." (Janet A. Zimmerman)
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The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table Manners
by Margaret Visser
Paperback, Reprint Edition
Published by Penguin USA 1992

Much Depends on Dinner : The Extraordinary History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos of an Ordinary Meal
by Margaret Visser
Paperback, 352 pages
Published by Grove Press 1999
"A fascinating mixture of gastronomy, history and cultural anthropology" (Martha Gehan)
"Highly recommended! Fascinating reading." (Gordon Wing)
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We Are What We Ate: 24 Memories of Food
by Mark Winegardner (Editor)
Paperback, 224 pages
Published by Harvest Books 1998
These essays, by writers not generally considered "food writers," range from the haunting "Watercress" by Elena Castedo to an impassioned plea for responsible consumption by Wendell Berry to a wicked ode to junk food, "Her Chee-to Heart" by Jill McCorkle. The book is a beautifully and lovingly written illustration of just how important food is in forming our lives, just in case we forget. As an added bonus, book sales benefit Share Our Strength" (Janet A. Zimmerman)
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A Taste of Thyme
by Richard Tapper, Sami Zubaida (Editor), Claudia Roden, Richard Tapper (Editor)
Paperback, 320 pages
Published by I B Tauris & Co Ltd 2001
"I didn't originally mention this book because it seemed too specialized, but on reflection it occurs to me that there must be other chowhounds interested in the history of Middle Eastern foods. If you are one such, look for Culinary Cultures of the Middle East, ed. by Sami Zubaida and Richard Tapper (I.B. Tauris, 1994) - - it's a unique and fascinating collection of essays, for example "From the Caucasus to the Roof of the World" by Bert Fragner (focusing on Iranian rice cuisine), an article by Holly Chase on the evolution of fast food in Istanbul, "The Taste for Layered Bread among the Nomadic Turks and the Central Asian Origins of Baklava" by Charles Perry, "Al - Kishk: the past and present of a complex culinary practice" by Francoise Aubaile - Sallenave, "Jewish Food in the Middle East" by Claudia Roden, "Food and Gender in a Yemeni Community" by Ianthe Maclagan, and "Beyond Taste: the complements of colour and smell in the medieval Arab culinary tradition" by Manuela Marin (there are 17 essays in all)." (Steve D.)
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by Joanne Harris
Paperback, 306 pages
Published by Penguin USA 2000
"A great read" (C. Fox)
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The Tummy Trilogy
by Calvin Trillin
Paperback, 386 pages
Published by Noonday Press 1994
"My favorite book about food, because it elucidates the joys of eating, and being around other people who enjoy food, better than anything else I've ever read. Watching Trillin follow Fats Goldberg around Kansas City is a joy." (Dave Feldman)
"Trillin will delight...Thank goodness he is still writing." (Ann Leneve)
"They make me hungry, and they're also excellent, graceful, funny writing" (Jessica)
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Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread & Scuppernong Wine: The Folklore and Art of Southern Appalachian Cooking
by Joseph Earl Dabney, John Egerton
Paperback, 493 pages
Published by Cumberland House 1998
"I'm reading this right now and enjoying it immensely. I grew up in the area about which Mr. Dabney writes and I have found his book to be absolutely authentic (ie. recipes) and thoroughly researched. There is even a small passage condemning the use of sugar in cornbread (and giving the correct recipe using white cornmeal. I can get very, very worked up about cornbread.) which confirmed my initial opinion of this book. It's the real thing. I'd also recommend the entire series of Foxfire books if you are interested in Appalachian cooking and folklore - especially the essays concerning Aunt Arie" (Melissa Garland)
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In Season : Culinary Adventures of a San Juan Island Chef
by Greg Atkinson
Paperback, 256 pages
Published by Sasquatch Books 1997
Now executive chef at Seattle's Canlis, this is a memoir with recipes of his time in the San Juan Islands...really great reading (Jim Dixon)
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An Omelette and a Glass of Wine (The Cook's Classic Library)
by Elizabeth David, John Thorne
Paperback, 320 pages
Published by The Lyons Press 1997
"All of Elizabeth David's books worth reading, and her "An Omelette and a Glass of Wine" is comprised only of essays, no exact recipes" (Pat P.)
The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth
by Roy Andries De Groot
Published by Ecco Press 1996
"Details meals and recipes he enjoyed at a small inn in the mountains in France. It's really beautifully written, and you will feel like you are at the table with him" (Wendy Jackson)
The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth
In Search of the Perfect Meal: A Collection of the Best Food Writing of Roy Andries De Groot
by Roy Andries De Groot
"...out of print but well worth hunting for" (Wendy Jackson)

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Paris to the Moon
by Adam Gopnik
Hardcover 352 pages
Published by Random House 2000
"His analysis of New York restaurants in the November 20th issue of the New Yorker is a classic and his book "Paris to the Moon" is a delight." (Edward)
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How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food
by Nigella Lawson, Arthur Boehm
Paperback, 496 pages
Published by John Wiley & Sons 2000
"The English journalist's book includes recipes, but makes great reading as well" (Jim Dixon)
Revolution at the Table : The Transformation of the American Diet
by Harvey A. Levenstein
Hardcover, 275 Pages
Oxford Univ Press 1988
"A great history of American eating." (Jim Dixon)
"Covers the late 1800s to the aftermath of the depression." (Andy Huse)
Paradox of Plenty : A Social History of Eating in Modern America
by Harvey Levenstein
University of California Press, 2003
"[Levenstein's] next book, "Paradox of Plenty" picks up where "Revolution" left off, WW2 and beyond. Great stuff." (Andy Huse)

The Armchair James Beard
by James Beard, John Ferrone (Editor), Barbara Kafka
Hardcover 320 pages
Published by The Lyons Press 1999
"comprised of pieces by Beard that haven't appeared in book form before...thoroughly enjoyable." (Pat Hammond)
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The Solace of Food: A Life of James Beard
by Robert Clark
Paperback, Reprint Edition
Published by Steerforth Press 1996
"[A] good look at one of our home-grown (Oregon) cooks, even better if you also read Delights & Prejudices by Beard himself" (Jim Dixon)
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James Beard Delights and Prejudices
by James Beard
"A memoir of growing up in the Northwest" (Jim Dixon)
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Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History
by Sidney W. Mintz
Paperback, 274 pages
Reprint Edition
Published by Viking Press 1995
"I've read an excerpt from it; interesting but dense" (Janet A. Zimmerman)
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The Unprejudiced Palate : Classic Thoughts on Food and the Good Life
by Angelo Pellegrini
Paperback, 256 pages
Rei Edition
Published by Linden Publishing 1997
Vintage Pellegrini : The Collected Wisdom of an American Buongustaio
by Angelo Pellegrini
"Pellegrini was called the "Great God Pan of the Pacific Northwest" by MFK Fisher" (Jim Dixon)

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Under the Tuscan Sun : At Home in Italy
by Frances Mayes
Paperback, 280 pages
Reprint Edition
Published by Broadway Books 1997
"About a California couple who buy and fix up a Tuscan villa. They roam the Tuscan countryside describing their feasts in local eateries and even includes recipes of creations from their own garden. It's as much a food lovers book as an old home lovers book" (ksb)
In Season: Culinary Adventures of a San Juan Island Chef
by Greg Atkinson
Paperback, 256 pages
Published by Sasquatch Books 1997
"Essays from the Executive Chef of Seattle's Canlis about becoming a cook in the San Juan Islands" (Jim Dixon)

American Appetite: The Coming of Age of a National Cuisine
by Leslie Brenner
Paperback, 384 pages
1st perenn Edition
Published by Avon Books Trd
"I thoroughly enjoyed...opened my eyes to the joys of reading about food history" (Deb)
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Life a LA Henri: Being the Memories of Henri Charpentier (Modern Library Food)
by Henri Charpentier, Boyden Sparkes
Paperback, 288 pages
Published by Modern Library 2001
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Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century (Modern Library Food)
by Laura Shapiro, Michael Stern (Introduction), Ruth Reichl (Editor)
Paperback, 274 pages
Published by Modern Library 2001

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Clementine in the Kitchen (Modern Library Food)
by Samuel Chamberlain, Narcisse Chamberlain, Ruth Reichl
Paperback, 268 pages
Revised Edition
Published by Modern Library 2001
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Cooking With Pomiane (Modern Library Food)
by Edouard De Pomiane, Edouard De Pomiane, Peggie Benton, Elizabeth David (Introduction)
Paperback, 288 pages
Published by Modern Library 2001
"There's a newly rereleased series of books, edited by Ruth Reichl, called Modern Library food. So far, there are four titles...and more titles are forthcoming. A favorite essay of mine is the preface to 'Simple Japanese Cooking', written by M.F.K. Fischer." (Amy)
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Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table
by Ruth Reichl
Paperback, 282 pages
Reprint Edition
Published by Broadway Books 1999
"Ruth Reichl begins her book with an amusing (and horrifying) account of her mother giving several guests food poisoning. The chapter is aptly titled, "The Queen of Mold". Apparently, no matter how moldy or old food may be Ms. Reichl's mother will insist that it's fine (no matter if it is furry and/or slimy - just wipe it off, it will be OK). Tucked in selected chapters are related recipes, a la 'Like Water For Chocolate.'" (Melissa Garland)
"I totally enjoyed Tender At The Bone. Great look into her past where her passion for food began and developed into a lifetime career, with many colorful characters along the way." (Heidi)
Blue Trout and Black Truffles: The Peregrinations of an Epicure
by Joseph Wechsberg
Reprint Edition
Published by Academy Chicago Pub 1985
"An amazing book about eating in Europe between the wars" (Jonathan Gold)

The Physiology of Taste
by Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Published by Penguin USA 1994
The classic work on food aesthetics, written 175 years ago and a major influence on all subsequent food writing (especially M.F.K. Fisher, who once translated it). This ground-breaking treatise--the first to propound that gastronomy is art--was an anomaly from Brillat-Savarin, a jurist who wrote nothing even vaguely similar before or after (his biographers strain mightily to understand how this aesthetic food sensibility developed in a man who'd previously given virtually no evidence of such leanings).
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Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments, With Recipes, Romances and Home Remedies
by Laura Esquivel, Carol Christensen, Thomas Christensen
Published by Anchor 1994
The book's better than the movie.
A Bowl of Red (Reprint Edition)
by Frank X. Tolbert
Texas A&M University Press, 1994
Texas journalist Tolbert's guide covers chili history and other native Texas foods, including such delights as son-of-a-bitch stew (a chuck wagon staple whose essential ingredient is the marrow gut of a young calf). This, the essential work on the subject, is written with delightfully dry humor, and the new updated edition includes an index of the scatter of recipes and a foreword by Hallie Stillwell, who judged at the first cookoff and, shockingly, included tomatoes in her favorite chili recipe.
-- Jim Dorsch
A list of titles by the great M.F.K. Fisher
"No one writes about food, travel, love, and food and eating and food, like MFK" (Keith Koenigsberg)
Dining With Headhunters
By Richard Sterling
Amazing accounts of chowhounding through Southeast Asian jungles, eating ants with Papua New Guinean tribesmen (recipes provided!), noshing at street stalls with Thai hookers, etc etc. Sterling's voice is a startling combination of Joseph Conrad and MFK Fisher and his writing is utterly transporting. Some anecdotes read like partially exaggerated war stories (these ARE war stories, set for the most part during Sterling's Navy days in Vietnam), but, tweaked memories or not, the man's walked the walk and eaten the ants, so it's easy to grant him his license. This out of print title's not available from Amazon, but--until it's republished--the author will sell you a copy himself; email him if you're interested). Or else keith koenigsberg notes that it's easy to track down an inexpensive second-hand copy on
The following titles in this section are out-of-print classics worth searching for (scroll down to see our other sections of in-print books)
Waiting for Dessert
by by Vladimir Estragon, a.k.a. Geoffrey Stokes
"A wonderful book of cooking essays" (Jonathan Gold)
The Kitchen Book
by Nicolas Freeling
"Freeling, an English novelist and terribly funny guy, started his career as a kitchen slavey in post-WW II European grand hotels and his story is highly entertaining. Some of his recipes ain't bad, either" (Martha Gehan)
A Taste of America
by by Karen and John Hess
"An interesting look at the history of the food scene in the US (written in 1977) Very opinionated and very fun to read about personalities in the food world and their dirty little secrets. You'll have fun" (Gordon Wing)
"Enjoyed" (Barb H.)
Consuming Culture: Why You Eat What You Eat
by by Jeremy MacClancy
Recommended by Janet A. Zimmerman
Eating in America
by Waverly Root
"If you enjoyed Waverly Root, you may be interested in his "Eating in America." (Pat P.)
"Also anything by Waverly Root (I have The Food of France, The Food of Italy, and the amazing Food - - an alphabetical list of anything and everything that anyone has ever chewed and swallowed, with glorious illustrations - long out of print, I'm afraid, but grab it if you see it)." (Steve D.)
Food: An Authoriative and Visual History and Dictionary of the Foods of the World
by Waverly Root
" alphabetical list of anything and everything that anyone has ever chewed and swallowed, with glorious illustrations" (Steve D.)
by G. B. Stern
"Two couples in 1927 drive through France eating incredible $4 meals with $2 bottles of wine. There are pictures of their car, the restaurant bills, the bottles. The writing is charming and makes you want to book a flight at once." (Janet Hall)
I'm a Spam Fan : America's Best-Loved Foods
by by Carolyn Wyman
"An interesting look at many of America's favorite foods. Fun reading and good memories" (Gordon Wing)
Why We Eat What We Eat
by by Raymond Sokolov
"Explores the post - Columbian food world, the origin of fusion (my words, not his)" (Jim Dixon)
Fading Feast
by Raymond Sokolov
"Enjoyed...leads off with a great Iowa apple pie recipe with a little cream poured into the filling." (Jen Kalb)
The Artful Eater: A Gourmet Investigates the Ingredients of Great Food
by Edward Behr
"One of my favorites" (Pat P.)



For some authoritative cookie cookbook suggestions, see our special report called Cookies! (if you'd like to go straight to the cookbook recommendations on that page, skipping the tips, recipes, etc, use this link).
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Southern Food
by John Egerton
Paperback, Reprint Edition
Published by Univ of North Carolina Press 1993
"I've enjoyed reading around in John Egerton's comprehensive "Southern Food." (Susan Thomsen)
"To all of these fine works i would add "Southern Food"." (Andy Huse)
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Bread and Chocolate: My Food Life in San Francisco
by Fran Gage
Paperback, 256 pages
Sasquatch Books 1999
"Gage owned an amazing bakery in San Francisco that tragically burned a few years ago. This witty and warm book is a treat, as are the great recipes of hers and others she admires." (Ann Leneve)
A list of titles by Bill Neal
A list of titles by Edna Lewis
"For traditional southeastern fare, the cookbooks of Bill Neal and Edna Lewis are great reads" (Jen Kalb)
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by Laurie Colwin
Paperback, 208 pages
Reissue Edition
Published by Harperperennial Library 1993
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More Home Cooking
by Laurie Colwin
Paperback, 240 pages
Reprint Edition
Published by Harperperennial Library 1995
"Wonderful comfort books" (Susan Thomsen)

A Mediterranean Feast, by Clifford A. Wright (William Morrow & Co; 1999)
It took Wright decades of research to produce this 800+ page volume covering all facets of Mediterranean cuisines from Morocco to Turkey. This unique book offers so many recipes that one is tempted to give up all else and spend one's life exploring this vast realm. Wright's knowledge of Arabic has enabled him to supplement his text with thorough historic investigations into origins of specific dishes (pasta for one) and translations from Arabic sources. The French and Spanish material (Provence and Langue D'Oc) is also brilliantly researched. Those anxious to follow up on this treatise will avail themselves of an extensive bibliography. Wright writes authoritatively on the origins and varieties of myriad culinary experiences. This almost overwhelming work makes for a great long-term companion both in and out of the kitchen. (Allan Evans)
The Melting Pot: Balkan Food and Cookery
by Maria Kaneva-Johnson
Paperback, 384 pages
Published by Foodword, 1995
"The unsurpassed work of an enlightened cook from Bulgaria who explains dishes--in all their local variations--with a style evoking the Minarets and mountain frontiers of this culinary holy land" (Allan Evans)
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Persian Cooking for a Healthy Kitchen
by Najmieh Batmanglij
1st Edition
Published by Mage Pub 1994
"Exquisite Persian recipes" (Allan Evans)
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I Hear America Cooking: The Cooks and Recipes of American Regional Cuisine
by Betty Fussell
Reissue Edition
Paperback, 560 pages
Published by Penguin USA 1997
"The cooks and recipes of American regional cuisine. Beautifully researched" (Allan Evans)
"more than you ever wanted to know" (Jim Dixon)
Classic Russian Cooking: Elena Molokhovets' a Gift to Young Housewives
by Joyce Toomre (Translator), Elena Molokhovets
Hardcover, 680 pages
Published by Indiana Univ Pr 1992
"An English translation of the early 1900's Czarist cooking classic...a masterpiece!" (Allan Evans)

A Book of Middle Eastern Food
by Claudia Roden
Paperback, 453 pages
Published by Vintage Books, 1974
"The author is a Jew from Alexandria...this documents the best of that lost world and also the most vital mainstream Egyptian and Middle Eastern recipes. Extraordinary...Roden has a great hand with ingredients and proportions." (Allan Evans)

Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies
by Alice Medrich (Warner Books, 1999)
"A wonderful manual. The recipes are clear and concise, and they really work! Medrich's useful technical pointers will come in handy for any cookie/brownie recipe (one nice tip, called "The Steve Ritual": brownies come out extra rich if you bake them hot and then arrest the cooking with an ice bath). I tried her recipes for almond biscotti and dried apricot bars; both were top-notch."
-- Jeremy Osner
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Eat Right, Eat Well-The Italian Way
by Edward Giobbi, Richard N. Wolff
Paperback, 544 pages
Published by Knopf 1998
"A book of Italian recipes that will draw you into his own kitchen, and you'll be glad you're there. It's illustrated with charming drawings by his children." (Ann Leneve)
"I also second the suggestion of the Ed Giobbi book "Pleasure of the Good Earth". Really more of a cookbook, but peppered with anecdotes about everything from how to kill and pluck your own chicken, to racoon alla cacciatora, to how to make your own wine at home!" (Wendy Jackson)
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Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook
by Ruth Van Waerebeek, Naria Robbins
Published by Workman 1996
Subtitled "The Crispiest Fried Potatoes, Moistest Roast Chicken, Plumpest Garlicky Mussels, and Heartiest Beers". If your mouth's watering, wait till you tear into this one. A great book, much loved by a small cult following (though I believe it's selling well to the mainstream, as well). Belgium is not the sleepy sister of France; it's a chowhound mecca.
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Classic Indian Cooking
by Julie Shani
Hardcover, 541 pages
Published by William Morrow 1980
Sahni's a terrific writer and educator; what's more, she knows when to inject her own opinion and when to convey unannotated Tradition. This is a highly polished (but extremely approachable) work, beautifully organized and each recipe carefully developed. A wealth of knowledge awaits you.
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Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking
by Julie Sahni 1st Ed.
Hardcover, 511 pages
Published by William Morrow 1985
This is one of the best vegetarian cookbooks ever (and thus an ideal gift for meatless friends). Sahni points out, quite persuasively, that vegetarian cuisine has unfairly gotten a bad rep from insipid California Lite health food style cooking. Indians have been vegetarian for millenia--time enough to forge a full-flavored, satisfying, nutritious solution for those hoping to eat healthier. Sahni's writing is direct, wise, and funny ("This dish was a favorite of the British during their brief but memorable stay in my country..."), and her wonderful chapter on ingredients alone conveys enough knowledge for the reader to cook without reading further. I'm lucky enough to have sampled Sahni's cooking, and it's very haimish. These recipes--neither stilted nor diluted for Westerners--are skillfully designed to help you to cook likewise.
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Savoring Spices and Herbs: Recipe Secrets of Flavor, Aroma, and Color
by Julie Sahni
Published by William Morrow, 1996
Not an encyclopedic work on spices, since it includes detailed descriptions of only 50 spices (plus some herb and spice blends), but Sahni's descriptions are evocative (cinnamon has a "camphoric aroma and sensuous flavor", black pepper "a distinctive bite and an aroma reminiscent of cloves with undertones of lemon and moss") and authoritative (but never dry or academic). The bulk of the book consists of well-developed recipes, some of which spotlight a particular spice or blend, while others seem to have been included for sheer good eating. Aside from the spice information, the book's worth picking up to have a look at the non-Indian side of Sahni's cooking.

Manifold Destiny
by Chris Maynard, Bill Scheller
Published by Villard Books 1998
Hysterical book about cooking on your car engine while driving, e.g. wrap food X in aluminim and cook 20 minutes at 55 mph on top of your alternator. This new edition of the out-of-print classic won't be published till spring '98, but you can place an advance order at Amazon by clicking the above title (they won't bill till they ship; they're good about such things).
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White Trash Cooking
by Ernest Matthew Mickler
Spiral Edition
Published by Ten Speed Pr 1986
Amazing spiral-bound book (with a LOVELY lady featured in the cover photo) presenting authentic, mind boggling recipes for dishes like fried squirrel, Clara Jane Vickar's Creamed Tuna Lunch and Freda's Five-can Casserole. It's the real thing (as you'd expect from an author with a name like Ernest Matthew Mickler), and worth owning just for the photos. Pass it around at parties; this is one cookbook guaranteed to get conversation going.
John Thorne thinks deeply about food. In his personal, utterly unaffected voice (which is actually a hybrid of himself and wife Matt), he ponders the minutia of meatballs, the inner meaning of rice and beaning. Aptly illuminating quotations are cited, seemingly unrelated concepts elegantly connected; Thorne's rhythms are so honest, his erudition so copious and his iconoclastic conclusions so clever that the reader never suspects the daunting legwork that goes into it all. Thorne, the hardest working man in the food writing biz, erases all traces of these labors, so his prose goes down as easily--and as deliciously--as the most soulful polenta.
When the ruminations conclude--and you've discovered historical, cultural, scientific, and spiritual depths to, say, pancakes that you'd never suspected existed--Thorne presents recipes. Not dozens of variations on a cooking theme, but a few concentrated treasures, the distillation of the preceding essay's meditations. The recipes may or may not be to your taste, but such care went into their developement that they're manifestly more than tested, more than polished...they're downright perfected.
Each of the following three books is composed of articles from Thorne's Simple Cooking newsletter, cleverly selected and arranged to (loosely) fit various themes.
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Simple Cooking
by John Thorne
Published by North Point Pr 1996
This first volume contains two of Thorne's best essays: one contrasting fat and thin cooks, the other about the "outright disgust and hypnotic fascination" inspired by truly awful recipes (those which promise to "conjur instant elegance from dross" like, say, Velveeta or Lipton instant onion soup mix). Other articles (arranged under headings Personal Passions, Perfect Pleasures, Table Talk, and a seasonal Kitchen Diary) include: Ultimate Cheesecake, Pasta in a Paper Bag, A Bowl of Porridge, Aged Sardines, and Carpaccio. Plus, a chapter of insightful reviews of Cook's Books.
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Outlaw Cook
by John Thorne, Matt Lewis Thorne
Reprint Edition
Published by North Point Pr 1994
Outlaw Cook is arranged into sections on Learning to Cook, Made to Taste, The Baker's Apprentice, and The Culinary Scene. These headings serve as catch-alls for reprints of articles such as: Forty Cloves of Garlic, Russians and Mushrooms, My Paula Wolfert Problem, Soup Without Stock (With A Note on Pea Soup), Natural Leavens: Sorting Out Sourdough, Breakfast Clafoutis, Mangiamaccheroni (a person who eats pasta with his fingers), Some Thoughts on Omelets, and The Discovery of Slowness.
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Serious Pig: An American Cook in Search of His Roots
by John Thorne, Matt Lewis Thorne
Published by North Point Pr 1996
Serious Pig covers Thorne's native New England (Knowing Beans, Building a Chowder, Clamdiggers and Downeast Country Stores, etc), Louisiana (Gombo Zhébes, A Note on Oysters Rockefeller, Rice & Beans: The Itinerary of a Dish, etc), and Texas (Benchmark Chili, The Seared & the Stewed, and Cooking With Wood: An Update, etc).

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The Food Lover's Tiptionary
("An a to Z Culinary Guide with More than 4500 Food and Drink Tips, Secrets, Shortcuts, and Other Things Cookbooks Never Tell You")
by Sharon Tyler Herbst
"An indispensable, easy-to-use reference for all cooks, from beginners to professionals. Among the hundreds of subjects covered are proper food storage, best measuring techniques, substitutions, flavor enhancement, and methods for fast clean-up." (Alison)

Asian Ingredients : A Guide to the Foodstuffs of China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam by Bruce Cost
Paperback, 321 pages
Published by Harperperennial Library, 2000
Recommended by Jonathan Gold

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
Reprint Edition
Published by Collier Books, 1997
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The Curious Cook: More Kitchen Science and Lore
by Harold McGee
Paperback, 352 pages
Reprint Edition
Published by Hungry Minds, Inc 1992
Indisputable classics. McGee explains the scientific underpinnings of every aspect of food and cooking. Not at all dry, very accessible even for non techno-wanks, this thick book is as much fun to browse through as it is useful to consult for problem solving. Anyone interesting in food must own it.
"Helps you understand the whys and hows about many interesting food phenomena...very good content!" (Gordon Wing)
"Scientific but interesting...who would have thought that a 650-page book on food science would turn out to be a page-turner? I bought On Food and Cooking as a background reference and ended up reading it cover to cover. McGee's straightforward style makes this book accessible to the non-scientist, yet it is in no way dumbed down. The Curious Cook (the more lighthearted volume) dispels a few kitchen myths (no, an avodaco pit does not keep the guacamole green), answers some pesky questions (does hot water really freeze faster than water at room temperature?), and contains an invaluable chart for making every conceivable type of granita, sorbet or other fruit ice." (Janet A. Zimmerman)
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Food Finds: America's Best Local Foods and the People Who Produce Them
by Allison and Margaret Engel
Published by HarperCollins, 2000
This is a large (466 pages) book, sparsely illustrated (a few logos and a very few photos), intended as a "guide to America's diverse and delicious bounty of regional foods and specialty products." Listings include, in equal measure, nostalgia/comfort foods ("do they still make that?" products such as Fox's Ubet, Bell's Poultry Seasoning), and small local brands, most of which I'm afraid I don't recognize.
Which makes it impossible for me to review this this is not a review. Rather, it's a work in progress; an invitation for feedback. If you know about Priester's Pecans, and/or the Hucleberry Patch and/or The Apple Ledge Company (or any of the other more than 400 "local and specialty food producers in this book) please let me know. If all the chowhound owners of Food Finds combine local wisdom, we can get a sense of just how savvy this book is.
In my original version of this review, I quibbled about some of the authors' picks which I happened to recognize. H & H Bagels, Legal Seafoods' lobster, Russ and Daughter's smoked fish, and Maurice's Piggy Park sauce seemed rather obvious choices, and not the best of type. However, it's been pointed out to me that this book is about mail-order, so even though, for example, H & H are tremendously overrated bagels, they may, in fact, be the best NYC ones available nationally via mail order (and they almost certainly beat the best ones in Fargo or Tuscaloosa). And while I suspect authors Engel and Engel could have dug a bit further to find a smaller, better, less obvious lobster source, the authors insist that they've "received many boxes of seafood from down-home lobster pounds and family-run fish purveyors with impressive walk-in trade that have been mushy, poorly packed, and inedible upon receipt".
But lots of great small mustardy South Carolina barbecue places sell their sauce via mail, and Maurice, the obvious choice, is simply the best entrepreneur, not the highest quality manufacturer. H&H Bagels are not "definitive" or "terrific" in my opinion, nor are they made the "old-fashioned way" (they're not hand-rolled). And I spotted other lapses. The authors have included screwy egg cream directions (two tablespoons of milk per glass??), backed the wrong Pennsylvania potato chip (Good's rather than Zerbe's) and overlooked Egg Farm Dairy (which many people in-the-know considered the preeminent American cheese company before recently going out of business). Where is Zingerman's, which mail orders some of the country's best-loved breads and brownies? And, back to chips, Zapp's, from Louisiana are indeed great, but while their flavored chips are among the best in the country, their plain variety--which the Engels dismiss as "mundane"--are at least as good. And the best potato chips of all, the The Maui Kitch'n Cook'd Potato Chips, are not included. They're very hard to find, but hardly unknown, and a bit of research would have smoked out that they are, in fact, available via mail order (call 808-877-3652 to order). Tsk!
The unengaging tone of the writing (descriptions read like recapitulation of the company's own proclamations, though the authors deny this) makes me wary, but Food Finds' sterling reputation among food fans and writers over the years does indeed earn the title some benefit of doubt.
Again, the above reservations reflect my grasping at those few straws I recognize, since I know so few of their picks. This might be a good thing; small companies indeed account for a lot of the edible magic in this country, and no chowhound can resist an enticingly obscure tip. But obscurity is not, of course, enough in and of itself. So...I'm anxious to hear other opinions. If this book is bursting with treasure, I want to hear about it (and will update my review accordingly). Meet me on the appropriate regional Chowhound message board!
At the very least, Food Finds is worth buying to have in the chow reference library for next time you need organic chévre, cottage cheese candies, or Kamut flour. And, who knows, the book may be as chock full of treasure as many authorities say it is. No one hound can make that determination, but we surely can, together, if we all chip in our knowledge!
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The New Food Lover's Companion: Comprehensive Definitions of over 3000 Food, Wine, and Culinary Terms
by Sharon Tyler Herbst
2 Edition
Paperback, 715 pages
Published by Barrons Educational Series 1995
It's missing about half the world--you won't find pupusas, okonomayaki, or utthapam--but this book's a LOT broader than Larousse (and far more compact/handy), and the info the authors do include is pretty much on the money (as you'd expect from Barrons). This is by no means a major reference work, but if you need to find out the milk fat content of Gouda cheese, how lobster thermidor is made, the peak season for collard greens or a brief history of Tabasco, this is a reliable source. Worth having to fill food knowledge gaps.
Dim Sum How About Some
by Michael Danowski, Wanda Chin
Published by New York Niche Pr, 1990
A classic little book that everyone talks about but few own (I do have a copy, and it's terrific). Without being pedantic, the authors (clearly chowhounds) convey the lowdown on every aspect of dim sum in a handy Zagat-sized volume. It includes Cantonese calligraphy, so you can point at favorite things you want waiters to bring. It's pretty much out of print, very hard to find (Kitchen Arts might have some; call 212-876-5550, or also try Carolyn's Cookbooks,, but Amazon can search down a copy for you if you click the title above (they won't bill your credit card till they find it).
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Oxford Companion to Food
by Alan Davidson
Oxford University Press, 1999
Read our full review of this title.
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The Asian Grocery Store Demystified
by Linda Bladholm
Renaissance Books, 1999)
Admirable coverage of this impossibly broad topic in a slim 235 pages. Of course stuff's been left out (the Indian subcontinent, for example...that's another book in the "Demystified" series), but while there's no room for encyclopedic thoroughness, much ground is covered, making this a very handy resource to bring with you on shopping trips. Design is handsome and info well-organized.
Drawings of fruits and vegetables (including some Asian greens that have sparked discussion on our message boards) are helpful for identifying mysterious produce, and brief cooking instructions are provided (some of the more common medicinal herbs are also drawn and described). The book examines everything from condiments to canned goods, meats, and snacks--scant info on cooking utensils, though--and, best of all, well-chosen tips re: good brand names to look for for each product. Writing is no-nonsense--don't expect colorful or evocative descriptions (example: durian tastes like "vanilla ice cream with a hint of sulfur").
Quibbles: Asian characters are not given for the products, so unless you guess right on the transliterations (there's no pronunciation guide), you'll have trouble getting non English-speaking employees to point you to some of these products. And the index lists only the English names, not their transliterated Asian names. Bladholm has tagged on a few recipes of varying quality ("curry powder" used as an ingredient in Singaporean chicken curry...? Blasphemy!)

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Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers
by Stephen Harrod Buhner(Siris Books, 1998)
Buhner weaves together folklore, science and spirituality in this unique volume. Long ago, herbal beers were used as medicines, and the author makes a case for their usefulness today. He believes hops became the dominant flavoring agent during the Reformation Era - they inhibit sexual performance and induce sleep (making people imbibe less) - and advocates the use of a much broader flavor palette. This book will have you looking at ales and lagers in new ways. Recipes and sources are included. -- Jim Dorsch
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The Wine Lover's Companion
by Ron Herbst, Sharon Tyler Herbst
Part of the same Barron's series that includes the terrific Food Lover's Companion (see above), this handy, well-designed reference is full of dependably accurate information. You won't find recommendations--or listings--of individual wines (for all that, try Hugh Johnson's Pocket Encyclopedia of Wine); the Wine Lover's Companion is a great resource (in dictionary format) for quickly looking up facts about wine, wine regions, and related topics.
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The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing
by Charlie Papazian
Revised & Updated Edition
Paperback, 398 pages
Published by Avon Books 1991
People who make their own beer own this book...every homebrewer will tell you that. A mellow Colorado dude (his motto: "Relax. Don't Worry. Have a homebrew") guides you through it all.
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Running Press Pocket Guide to Beer
by Michael Jackson
7th Edition
Paperback, 208 pages
Published by Running Press, 2000
For those who quest for quality quaffables: this is the only comprehensive guide to beers and brewpubs all over the country and the world. Jackson's writing is a bit fuzzier than when he first embarked on his Sisyphean task of hunting down every beer in on God's Green Earth (he drinks his way anew through many of them for each new edition of this Pocket Guide), but twelve zillion brews later he's still The Man.
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Michael Jackson's Beer Companion: The World's Great Beer Styles, Gastronomy, and Traditions
by Michael Jackson
2nd Edition
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published by Running Pr 1997
A collection of photos, stories, history, and general information about beer from the leading writer in the field. Hardcover, browsable for endless hours. Not really a reference work...for traveling or choosing brews at the corner deli, Jackson's Pocket Guide (see above) is a better choice, this is more of a coffee table book...the ideal gift for beer geeks ( will gift wrap, by the way).

The Great Beers of Belgium: A Complete Guide and Celebration of a Unique Culture
by Michael Jackson 3rd ed.
Paperback, 244 pages
Published by Running Press
New third edition! If you love Belgian beer, this is the ultimate porn: glossy, leering shots of trappist beers, breathless accounts of spontaneously fermenting lambics...all impressively put together on quality paper etc. A great gift for beergeek friends and Belgophiles.

Good Beer Guide to Belgium and Holland: The Best Bars and All the Breweries
by Tim Webb
Published 1999
Nothing short of a publishing marvel: exhaustive, opinionated coverage of the world's most complex beer scene, funneled into a slim, highly portable volume. Webb is opinionated--sometimes even cantankerous--but his biting British sarcasm and compulsive thoroughness make for irresistible reading. His bar and cafe listings are particularly colorful; while reading through the evocative descriptions and amusing digressions I find myself dog-earing pages and hankering deeply for a trip Over There. Besides the copious beer info, there's enough advice on getting to and around the area to make the book something of a one stop source for travelers. What's more, so many Belgian brews are now available in America that this proves useful as a buying guide even for homebound drinkers--beers are star rated and Webb's opinions are ultra-reliable.

Michael Jackson's Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch
by Michael Jackson
4th Edition
Published by Running Press 1999
The third edition of Jackson's guide was a beloved bible, but this newish fourth edition blows away its predecessor. It's a required upgrade, much fatter with coverage of tons more whiskies. Jackson explains that with this edition he's "celebrated ten years of Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion with a marathon of tasting and note-taking." His liver's pain is our pleasure.
The biggest improvement, other than general breadth, is greater coverage of rare and unusual bottlings. With the increasing prevalence of special releases and third party bottlings (by, for example, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society), an orderly presentation of progressively older bottlings would be incomplete. So there are now supplemental pages for a number of distilleries where Jackson's generously dumped such a wide-ranging sonata of notes that you can scarcely imagine running into an oddball bottle without a matching Jackson description and rating to guide you.
It's important to remember that single malts are, almost without exception, inherently delicious drinks in and of themselves, so to seek out only the highest-rated products would be to miss a lot of pleasurable ones. Jackson rates on the Parker scale, from 50 to 100, but, unlike wines, these 70's are well worth tasting. It's like distinguishing between first growth Bordeaux or loving embraces; the impulse to seek out best-of-type should be put aside in favor of wide-ranging appreciation of the incredible variety of flavor, aroma, and hue of these wonderful malts. Jackson's commentary helps get you calibrated.
My only criticism with the book is Jackson's puzzling devotion of considerable space to descriptions of "hard to find" yet very low-rated whiskies--though I suppose such jags do serve the goal of completeness. And while the price may seem steep at $27.50, this is a very handsomely produced hardcover, and, considering that single malt whiskies are fairly costly themselves, the investment will repay itself many times over as it helps ensure that your single malt enjoyment is multifarious.
Book of Sake
by Garrison, Hiroshi Kondo
Published by Kodansha 1996
Terrific insights into sake tasting, history, and culture, including fascinating tutorials on how gaijen should conduct themselves eating and drinking in Japan. It's a humble pulpy little book, but it's a goodie.
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The Insider's Guide to Sake"
by Philip Harper Paperback
Published by Kodansha 1998
Harper actually works in a sake brewery in Japan, and is allegedly the only foreigner doing so. The book is well-written and really informative on the brewing process, what all the different types are, etc... I'm finding it useful as a supplement to my sake classes as I don't always quite get all the concepts in Japanese.
It also has lists of some recommended sakes, with pictures of the labels and in the back has a pretty exhaustive lists of retailers and restaurants both in Japan and overseas. Admittedly, he doesn't include my favorite sake shop in Tokyo...but he lives down in Nara, so I'll forgive him.
-- Rachel M
Wine for Dummies
by Ed McCarthy, Mary Ewing-Mulligan
Published by IDG Books, 1998
A good gift for someone who knows nothing about wine and doesn't aspire to full blown infatuation with the stuff (or for chowhounds who've hankered to bone up just a little bit). Robin Garr keeps up with wine books, and is very skilled at wine education (check out his site); he's given permission to reprint his review:
OK, if you're a dummy. This introductory book, which is similar to but doesn't significantly duplicate the same authors' "Red Wine for Dummies" and "White Wine for Dummies," covers considerable ground; I'd advise the newcomer to the wine hobby begin with this general book before moving to the "Red" and "White" editions, which cover a bit more detailed and advanced information. Despite the self-deprecating "dummies" concept, the authors present wine with just a whiff of snootiness hanging in the air. Still, there's ample content here, and it's presented in easily digestible form.
The Beer Drinker's Guide to Munich
by Larry Hawthorne
3rd Edition
Paperback, 160 pages
Published by Independent Publishers Group 1995
A wonderful account, written with great knowledge of--and passionate love for--beer halls in Munich. Humorous, personal accounts of all the best places to drink--each rated from one to four beer steins--with appendix lists of "most traditional", "wild-and-craziest", "best with kids", "cheapest", "biggest", and "most traditional" ones. There is copious info on using public transport to get to these places, and some interesting notes on Bavarian beer hall etiquette (including a diagram showing how to hold the huge one liter steins). Also: a calender of beer fests, lyrics to the most famous drinking songs (including instructions like "watch for the band to put on funny-looking straw hats before they play this one), and information on the famous Oktoberfest ("and other keg parties").Note:'s info is incorrect: this third edition was published in 1995, not 1992.

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Remembrance of Things Past
by Marcel Proust
Paperback, Boxed Edition
Published by Knopf 1982
"It isn't only about Madeleines" (Isa Benveniste)

The Railway Journey : The Industrialization of Time and Space in the 19th Century
by Wolfgang Schivelbusch Paperback
Univ California Press, 1987

Disenchanted Night : The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century
by Wolfgang Schivelbusch Paperback
Univ California Press 1995
Wolfgang Schivelbusch, author of Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants, mentioned in our General Chow Writings and Histories section, above...
"has written other fascinating single-minded histories, about artificial lighting (Disenchanted Night) and train passengers ("The Railway Journey"), that are definitely worth reading." (Steven Stern)

Sams Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML 4 in 21 Days
by Laura Lemay, Denise Tyler
2nd Edition
Paperback, 831 pages
Published by Sams 1999
Programming html is a lot easier than professional webmasters want you to realize. This book, written for complete idiots, sacrifices some completeness (and reference handiness) for clarity of instruction, but it nonetheless covers a lot of ground thoroughly enough. It's considered by many the work to have for non propeller-heads.
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How Do Astronauts Scratch an Itch: An Imponderables Book
by David Feldman
Paperback, 336 pages
Published by Berkley Pub Group, 1997
We're proud to have author Dave Feldman as one of our most outspoken resident chowhounds, especially since he's miraculously managed to answer nearly ALL the imponderable questions of our time in his popular series of books, promoted on a number of TV shows like Letterman and Joan Rivers. This is the latest of several volumes (check out Dave's website for lots more info).
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Awaken Healing Energy Through Tao
by Mantak Chia
Paperback, 193 pages
Published by Samuel Weiser, 1991
Pretty esoteric stuff, but learning to circulate your chi is immensely healthy, and Mantak Chia is the best guy for explaining the Taoist methods to gringos.
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The New Spaniards
by John Hooper
Published by Penguin USA 1995
After having visited the land of paella 19 times, I find that Hooper is dependably dead-on perfect in most all his observations and assessments of post Franco Spain. He masterfully explains how the country reached its present point, fitting a surprising amount of historic/cultural background into 470 pages. Hooper offers methodical analysis of every imaginable mileau (art, education, politics, crime, sex, religion, the press,etc etc), plus evocative (and unerring) portraits of each of Spain's strikingly different states. Indispensible for those traveling there, and a fascinating read for anyone even mildly interested in the region.

The Witch Next Door
by Norman Bridwell
Published by Scholastic Trade, 1991
This is supposedly a childrens story ("reading level: ages 4-8"), but The Witch Next Door (by the author of Clifford the Big Red Dog) is my favorite book. A morality tale with a twist (and considerable subtlety). Must reading for kids of all ages, especially at the low price.

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