Around here, we often tell you about books that have just been published. Perusing my bookshelf yesterday, I realized that the new books are often not the ones that I turn to again and again. Sure, some of them become essential but many of them lose their luster and are never used again.
Starting today, I am going to occasionally try and let you know some of the books that are important to me that are neither new nor shiny. They’re the everyday soldiers of my library that are used again and again.
A few years ago, I noticed an old, cracked book on the bookshelf of a friend’s mom. As soon as I picked it up, I knew that I had to get my own copy. Herbs, Spices and Flavorings was originally published in 1982 and was written by Tom Stobart. Stobart went on to produce and direct the Master Chef series on the BBC.
Herbs, Spices and Flavorings is largely a research text in paperback form. I’ve used it often to satisfy my curiousity about a particular ingredient, or to learn more about the way food is flavored. It has entries for every herb and spice that you can think of, as well as interesting sections for things like Khas-Khas (an aromatic herb grown in hot climates and used to flavor sherbets), fishy flavors (a two page entry describing the importance of these flavors to some cultures), and Harvey’s Sauce (an old English sauce that is similar to Worcestershire sauce, but without any heat).
This is not a book that is necessary for new chefs learning to boil water. But if you’re like me and spend a lot of time thinking about food, perusing recipes just for fun, and wondering how to dissect flavors within restaurant dishes, this is a book that you would most likely enjoy.