Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What I have been reading Wednesday...The Flavor Bible

     It is time for another "What I have been reading Wednesday."  I have been reading lots of books lately, but especially food writing books and cookbooks as a part of Foodies Read 2013.  One of the books that I had a really hard time deciding whether I wanted to read or not, or add to my library for that matter was The Flavor Bible.  I had very mixed feelings on this one in the beginning,   In some ways I worried that this book would limit exploration and experimentation, and that the book would make me feel hampered.  However there were so many reviews for this book that sang of its praises, plus it did win the James Beard Award in 2009, so I figured it was at least worth a shot to check it out.  I have to confess this is one of my favorite food reference book to date it is amazing!  When reading this book, one can look up almost any ingredient and there are a list of suggested flavor combinations.  Or you could look up a certain ethnic cuisine and there will be a long list of suggested spices and flavors to combine to achieve international cuisine at home.  One of the ingredients that I decided I wanted to look up was clams.    I love clams, but I feel as though I don't know as many flavor combinations with them as I would like.
     I was surprised at just how many combinations that they suggested, and some of them are ones that had never even occurred to me.  Also listed is the season of the ingredient, the primary taste, weight, volume, and the primary suggested cooking techniques.  Also listed are dishes that some of the best known chefs make with that specific ingredient, and the flavor combinations that they use.  One dish I find very intriguing is by Rick Tramonto, for braised manila clams with Italian sausage and white beans.  I wouldn't have ever thought about that combination before, but it really does make sense.  In the book it suggested that I use the Korean flavors with clams, so the chile peppers, garlic, soy, and sesame seeds.  Usually when I cook clams I focus on French, Italian, and Mediterranean cooking, or New England clam chowder, never have I thought of any type of Asian cuisine, so I am very intrigued by this possibility.
     I love the ideas and creativity that this book sparks, it brings all sorts of new possibilities to light, and causes the reader to create ones of their own as well.  This book proves to be an incredible resource for the serious home cook, and I find myself referring to it often.  I am definitely glad that I gave this book a chance, read it for yourself, and you will love having it in your kitchen and the new options it creates for you.

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