More Books For The Pile

Good afternoon, friends and neighbors!

So, I friggin’ love reading.

Entertainment, a variety of genres, no mucking about with WiFi or power cords (necessarily,) and an expanded vocabulary that can make you feel like the sassiest, smartest SOB in the room for at least a little while.
Oh yeah… And you pick up some great knowledge, ideas, and inspiration too- as long as you read the good stuff. Get your hands on bad writing, and it’s still a plus- now you know how to identify a crap book.
Plus it keeps you off the emotional vamp-fest on Facebook.
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Want to hear about my political and religious opinions through passive-aggressive posts?

A while back, I started a reading list on here of books that I felt every aspiring cook/baker should have. You can flash back on here and check it out for yourself, or here’s a condensed list:

The BHB’s Book List
Kitchen ConfidentialThe Nasty Bits, and Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
The Joy of Cooking by Marion Rombauer, et al.
The Elements of Cooking by Michael Ruhlman
Professional Baking by Wayne Glissan
Advanced Bread and Pastry by Michael Suas
How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science by Paula I. Figoni
– Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson
– your favorite holy text
– your favorite fiction
– your favorite poetry

    Recently, I’ve been making a point of looking up and reading as many food-related books and biographies as I can- not only to get inspiration and ideas, but insight into the workings of minds that have very much shaped the industry I’ve chosen and the world I have thrown myself into. Some of the works I’ve read/am reading so far are classics that should perhaps be on the reading list of any culinary student. The others, maybe not so much. Here then are the texts I am currently on about- particularly the ones I’ll talk about at length if you catch me a couple beers in and have an hour to kill.

What The BHB Is Reading Now

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Tenzo Kyokun (Instructions to the Cook) by Dogen
This is a text written by a Buddhist Zen Master named Dogen. I have covered it previously in this entry, but in a nutshell, Dogen describes the responsibilities and desired attributes of the head cook at a Zen monastery- not a menial servants position like in Europe at the time, but a position to be filled by an older, enlightened, and philosophically adept monk. For those who can’t believe spiritual awakening can come from nominally menial work, this is for you.

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The Physiology of Taste by Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Brillat-Savarin was, by every definition, the host with the most. A politician, violinist, lawyer, gourmand, aristocrat- NEVER a cook, chef, or baker in his life. Yet, this book, published a few months before his death and comprised of his meditations on food, eating, pleasure, science, society, and nature, remains one of the bibles of the hospitality industry. From this man who lived at the turn of the 19th Century, we get the maxim, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” Read this for the 200-year-old recipes at the end, if not for the goofy anecdotes, tongue-in-cheek humor at the societal circles he moved in, and the casual insights into behavior at the table.

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The Devil In The Kitchen: Sex, Pain, Madness, and the Making of a Great Chef by Marco Pierre White with James Steen
Carême may well have been the first celebrity chef, but Marco Pierre White was the first rock-star chef. A chef proprietor at 24, the first Brit and youngest chef to ever win 3 Michelin Stars, famously given to outrageous behavior, rage and anger in the kitchen, and an absolute obsession with cooking, this book is his autobiography. It offers not only insights into the development of his food philosophy and career arc, but anecdotes of the lunatic madness that gave rise to Mario Batali, Heston Blumenthal, and many other now-household names that White called “employees,” and who called him at one time or another “mentor.” Read it for the wisdom. Read it for the madness and name-drops. Read it for the sex and foul language. Whatever you like- just read it.

There are plenty of others on my list that I have yet to get to, but rest assured- when I get done with them, you’ll hear about it. In the meantime, got any books you think I should be looking at? Drop me a line!
Till then..

Stay Classy,