On Monday night, Mark Bittman celebrated the release of his latest (nay the heaviest?) cooking tome The Best Recipes in the World at the soigné digs of Steve Ruben (publisher Broadway Books) off Central Park West. No burritos with Daniel this time, but nice wine and nibbles with Pino Luongo, Rocco Dispirito, Peter Elliot, Ed Levine and a smattering of literary types. Billed as ‘more than 1000 international dishes to cook at home’ the four-pound book took six years and trips to 44 countries to produce. Bittman outlines his logic and plan of attack in the introduction, a good place to get your bearings because it’s a really big book. His goal was to detail the most common recipes from around the world that are underrepresented in most cookbooks….until now. The international pantry section is particularly helpful and it seems the key to global cooking, as Bittman points out, most techniques are universal, it’s the ingredients that make the difference.
While downtown at One Astor Place, Esquire Magazine commandeered the 16th floor penthouse to fete Queer Eye for the Straight Guy Ted Allen's The Food You Want to Eat. A nattily dress group of metro guys (including Stanley Tucci and Rocco again!) and gals munched on snacks by Kerry Heffernan, while Allen signed books in the media room. His paperback book comes with a nifty clear plastic cover, making it easy to clean after attempting one of the ‘100 smart, simple recipes.’ It’s got lots of basic information to guide your shopping choices and entertaining style, written in a very conversational tone. If you’ve ever seen Allen on TV, you will hear his voice while reading. That can be a plus or minus, depending on your perspective.
Pound for pound - the Bittman book gives more recipe bang for your buck. Though the recipes are pretty accessible, I’d say it’s for people who really cook. Allen’s book is perfect for the occasional culinary romp. The social cook, if you will.
Note* I received both books for free from the publishers. Each came with a handy press release, excerpted below.
The Best Recipes in the World: More Thank 1,000 International Dishes to Cook at Home by Mark Bittman
Published October 11, 2005 Broadway Books $29.95
Back-of-the-book blurbs by: José Andrés, Lidia Bastianich, Daniel Boulud, Suvir Saran and Paula Wolfert.
From the release…
“A journalist, with no formal culinary training, Mark speaks the home cook’s language…”
“…you could be enjoying a delicious homemade caramelized shrimp dish for dinner in about the same amount of time it takes for your take out order to arrive at your door.”
The Food You Want to Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes by Ted Allen
Published October 18, 2005 Clarkson Potter $27.50
Back-of-the-book blurbs by: Mario Batali, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, Sara Moulton and David Rosengarten.
From the release…
“…is for men and women, single or spoken for, new or old to the kitchen.”
“Ted wants your hands out of the cereal box and into something you have prepared, using the simple techniques and instructions he provides.”
* Note to the note, I do follow a strict “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything” policy – most of the time. Meaning, I get lots of free books and write about the ones I find interesting. Does that change your view on what you read above?