We receive questions from our readers on a regular basis, but there’s a common thread that seems to be coming up more than others. Basically, y’all want to know about ingredients – why does this ingredient go in that drink? Can I use this instead of that? Why would I add insert savory ingredient to insert sweet dessert? And finally, how do you know the answers to those questions without having to ask someone else, or try every combination?
That’s why we wanted to tell you about our favorite kitchen book, The Flavor Bible. Honestly, it’s the only book we use when we cook or mix drinks, and it doesn’t even really have any recipes in it. That’s the thing about The Flavor Bible. It changes the way you prepare your food. It makes you a more versatile chef, mixologist, and baker, without filling your head with a million different distinct recipes. In fact, most recipes you’ll find online or in cookbooks are made with the techniques they teach in The Flavor Bible.
So what is it all about? The first section of the book describes the eating experience. That’s broken down into the visual, flavoring, and texture aspects of anything you make. This isn’t the most important section, but it does lay some groundwork that’ll help you understand and take advantage of the info in the latter sections. This is the part of the book that teaches you, for example, why you’d want to add something tangy like lemon juice to something bitter like kale. Or, to call back to a recent post, why Anna O’Steele’s Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt were SOOO delicious. It all comes down to balancing flavors and textures.
The next part of the book is the real treasure trove of information. It lists pretty much EVERY ingredient you could think of using, and under each ingredient it lists every other ingredient that complements the parent ingredient. One result of this – it’s a looooong book. We’ve had it for a couple years now, and probably haven’t read the whole thing yet. But that’s also the beauty of it. If you have a seemingly random ingredient, you can open up the book, look it up, and use the knowledge from the first few chapters to put together a dish that no one’s made before. Eventually, you learn to categorize the flavors in your head, so you can make crazy recipes on your own. You’ll also be more able to identify what’s missing in the recipe you’ve just made and fix the problem, instead of just giving up and starting over from scratch.
The reason we love this book so much is that it sets the guidelines and lets your creativity run wild. It turns recipe following cooks into recipe creating chefs. We promise you’ll be shocked at the restaurant-quality stuff that’ll be coming out of your kitchen in no time. It also gives you the vocabulary necessary to hold your own in discussing foods, drinks, and desserts found anywhere from the local hole in the wall to the big city gastropub. Buy this book, read the first couple chapters, leave it in your kitchen, and we’re betting it’s the last cookbook you’ll ever need to buy!
The Flavor Bible, written by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, is available here on Amazon!