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50 Foods: The Essentials of Good Tasteby Edward Behr
Synopses & Reviews
With 50 Foods, noted authority Edward Behr has created the definitive guide to the foods every food lover must know. A culinary Baedeker, 50 Foods will delight and inform the connoisseur as well as the novice.
Like Behrs celebrated magazine, The Art of Eating, 50 Foods presents simple, practical information about buying, using, preparing, and enjoying. Behr focuses on aroma, appearance, flavor, and texture to determine what the best” means for each food. He tells you how to select top quality—signs of freshness and ripeness, best season, top varieties, proper aging. If the way to prepare, serve, or eat something is little known, then he explains it (how to open an oyster, why the best way to cook green beans is boiling, how to clean a whole salted anchovy, when to eat and when to discard the rind of a cheese). Behr also names the most complementary foods and flavors for each of these fifty marvelous foods and the wines that go with them.
The fifty selections provide a broad sensory range for the modern gourmet. Most of the foods are raw materials, but some have been fermented or otherwise transformed—into bread, ham, cheese. Six of the fifty are cheeses. As Behr explains, cheese is probably the best food, as wine is the best drink. Behr argues that food tastes more delicious when it is closer to nature. Skilled low technology is almost always superior to high technology. But with scientific insight, the old methods can be refined to achieve more consistent high quality.
We cant always have the best, but with the information in this book we can eat better every day. Knowing good food is part of a complete understanding of the world—part of a full enjoyment of nature, a full experience of the senses, a full life.
For the connoisseur at any level, 50 Foods is a beautifully written guide to deliciousness, with color illustrations by Mikel Jaso throughout.
"In his elegantly composed, alphabetically organized primer on the most tasty ingredients in good cooking, Behr, the founder of the Art of Eating magazine, shares useful ways of growing, choosing, and pairing foods with other foods and, especially, wines. Based in Vermont and evidently well traveled in Italy and France, Behr is also a knowledgeable and experienced vegetable gardener himself. He champions a holistic approach; as he notes with regards to honey, 'What is treated least is usually best' (a statement that could be his mantra). He seems to like strong, straightforward tastes, like anchovies, brown country bread, Camembert cheese, chestnuts, goose, and plums. He has some interesting biases, preferring green asparagus over white, including an entry for boletes but none for garlic, and favoring French thin young green beans from his garden that he prefers not to undercook. He also likes Tuscan olive oil above others, and his wine admonitions for each food are frankly not that helpful: 'Plain eggs aren't flattered by wine'; 'Nearly everyone agrees that most cheeses taste much better with white wine than with red'; and 'A simple roast chicken is a gift to many wines.' Behr takes an almost scientific approach to taste, with his use of Latin names and disinquisitions on starch, tannins, sugars, and fats, and, refreshingly, he's not too snobby to include other expert's views, such evaluating apple varieties or explaining the West Coast way to open an oyster (at the rounded edge) versus his way, at the hinge. The book is certainly a welcome resource for the home chef." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Edward Behr is the founder of the acclaimed food magazine The Art of Eating. His writing has been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Forbes, and the Financial Times. He lives in Vermont.
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