Dining Features

Colorful Books to Cook and Eat By

The publisher of Kate Bingaman-Burt’s new book, What Did I Eat Today? A Food Lover’s Journal (Princeton Architectural Press, 2014), sent me a copy last month. I quite like it.

It’s mostly cute, bright green space to fill with notes. It has become my go-to notebook. Its intention is to provide foodies with a means to recording—and perhaps reliving—their choice meals. I tried entering my “better bites” for a while, then I tried to add a poetic line or insightful, terribly original thought, alongside each meal’s description. It quickly turned into me just listing everything I ate each day—like I’ve heard some people do when they’re on things called “diets.” Then I started scribbling down words I’d like to use more often in my writing. Now this happy little book is a repository for the ideas I plan to weave into a novel. Such inspiration this tiny tome has wrought! I figure whatever you write in there is arty because the Parrish Art Museum Gift Shop sells Bingaman-Burt’s earlier book, What Did I Buy Today?: An Obsessive Consumption Journal (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). These books are just so much more inviting than those dark little Moleskines. Plus, in the back, this one offers a grocery shopping list, a list of what’s-in-season-when and descriptions of herbs. I guess these will all appear in my novel.

It’s not often that I get this jazzed about a cookbook—Starting from Scratch: What you Should Know about Food and Cooking by Sarah Elton (Owl Kids, 2014), though for children, is a stunner! The author is a Canadian journalist who specializes in food writing. It’s clear to this food writer that she’s distilled the knowledge from a great many books for this one colorful and concise one. Plus she’s coalescenced all this knowledge into a fun, upbeat language that will appeal to kids just learning to cook. It’s a terrific start!

Plus Jeff Kulak’s sunny illustrations harken back to my childhood textbooks in a good way—they remind me that cooking is a fun, inventive science!

I was surprised that, in a book that includes information on what “organic” means and the dangers of BPA (bisphenol A), that GMOs (genetically modified organisms) were not mentioned. Of course among foodies, the matter has already been decided—say “no” to all GMOs.

Recommended for “age 10+,” I’m going to send a copy of this book to my college kid—in case there are concepts that I glossed over in my teaching. If today’s kids aren’t required to take Home Economics classes in school, they should be required to read and study this book! Of course everything in here is on “the test of life”—from how to stock your kitchen on the cheap to how to impress your dates with attractive, healthy dishes.

Yes, I’m going to buy a copy for myself.

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