From the Boyd Library: Books in Brief

From Liz Williams

Every few weeks I will be reviewing in brief some of the new cookbooks and other culinary books that come over the transom into the Boyd Library. Here are a few to start. . .

Table Manners: How to Behave in the Modern World and Why Bother by Jeremiah Tower. 2016. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 

Jeremiah Tower has written a short and succinct gloss on how to comport oneself in the modern world.  The modern world is too often a chaotic place, with casual equated with slothful and formal equated with arrogance.  Tower provides a vade mecum of comportment based on principles of good sense and thoughtfulness instead of a fuddy-duddy etiquette guide.  It would make an excellent graduation gift for both high school and college graduates. (Want to meet Jeremiah in person and get your book signed? Here's your chance!)

Food and Museums edited by Nina Levent and Irina D. Mihalache. 2017. Bloomsbury.

This book is a collection of essays (full disclosure: I wrote one of the essays) about the various aspects of food and museums.  Interpreted broadly, this means such things as restaurants in museums and including the cultural aspects of eating in museums exhibits. It is an academic book which provides various points of view, all by knowledgeable and thoughtful authors.  It is not as light as flipping through a cookbook in bed, but it does provide another bit of evidence that food and food culture have found a place in the English-speaking consciousness. 

Mexico from the Inside Out by Enrique Olvera.  2015. Phaidon. 

Phaidon has published this beautiful book in both Spanish and English editions.  I looked at the Spanish edition, but decided on the English edition so as not to miss the nuances of Olvera’s explorations of the traditional dishes of Mexico.  Now often touted as the best or sometimes the most famous chef in Mexico today, Olvera has tried to reinvent the flavors and traditions of Mexico into a white tablecloth style that is on a par with the best restaurants of the world.  This book is beautifully illustrated and contains detailed preparation instructions and plating instructions, as well as Olvera’s philosophy of food and his personal story.  If you like Mexican food, this book is a must.

American Cake by Anne Byrn. 2016. Rodale.

This lovely and useful book gives us a history lesson on the development of cakes in America: as technology changed, as ingredients became available, and as tastes changed.  The author, who penned the Cake Doctor books, knows a thing or two about cakes.  And this book does not disappoint.  If you like history, it is a good read.  If you like to bake, it is full of the kind of tips that make her recipes foolproof.  The photographs are also appealing.  It should have a permanent place on the baking shelf.