For a while it’s been apparent to us here at Rabelais that 2010 was shaping up to be one of the best cookbook years in a while. Despite all the doom and gloom about the demise of the physical book, the recent crop of cookbooks was a great one. It lacks the ill-timed hyper glamour of the 2008 list (with a boffo selection of high concept chef’s books landing right at the beginning of the economic crash), and has more zip than the D.I.Y.-heavy 2009 list (itself a healthy economizing response to the economy).

The great books of the year cover all the wide cookbook/food book territory, from do-it-yourself to high concept, from global home cooking, to classic techniques, from street food to foraged food.  Overall, the books are more personal, with the authors’ ideas and visions well-represented on the page. And the physical form of the cookbook is stretching a bit more, likely inspired by some recent self-published books, like Martin Picard’s  Au Pied Du Cochon Album or the handsome yet approachable Canal House books. This year there’s more excellent photography, more care with typography and design, and the books are a pleasure to handle.

So when the the holidays drew near, we expected that the many annual “best of” lists might reflect just how great the year’s cookbooks really are. Unfortunately, not so. It is true that many of our favorites are on some of those lists. But there’s also a ton of filler, including some titles which were practically phoned in (I’m looking at you recipe blog compilation!). Certainly some of the list writers were throwing a bone to a editor friend at one publisher or another. Or maybe they were just overburdened like the rest of us at this time of year, and didn’t have the time to do it right.

Well we’re not going to let our favorites go unmentioned this year, so we’re taking time away from the pre-Thanksgiving food prep to get our favorites down on paper (or pixels).  Between now and Christmas, we’ll elaborate here on why we’ve chosen these books, and be mentioning some runners up. There will also be a separate list of wine and cocktail books of the year.   So, in no particular order:

[an asterix “*” indicates a link to a full review]

Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen

Tender, Vols. I & II by Nigel Slater

Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Cooking With Italian Grandmothers by Jessica Theroux

Good Meat, The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat *
by Deborah Krasner

Meat, A Kitchen Education by James Peterson

Noma, Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine by Rene Redzepi

The Geometry of Pasta by Caz Hildebrand & Jacob Kenedy *

Thai Street Food by David Thompson

Kansha, Celebrating Japan’s Vegan and Vegetarian Traditions by Elizabeth Andoh

The Flavor Thesaurus, A Compendium of Pairings, Recipes and Ideas for the Creative Cook by Niki Segnit

Quay,  Food Inspired by Nature by Peter Gilmore

The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser *

Snowflakes & Schnapps by Jane Lawson *

Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson

Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich

Oaxaca al Gusto by Diana Kennedy

One Response to “RABELAIS 2010 CHOICE CUTS”

  1. Corinne Ricciardi Says:

    I visited your store with a friend for the first time recently and found it truly enjoyable. You have a perfect niche and support it well with your newsletter and events. My friend forwarded this newsletter to me.

    Please add me to your e-mail address list.

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