Here is a bit of a different book that might sadly attract a limited audience – but don’t stop reading here!
In essence the culinary history of New England (USA) is distilled into a collection of over 550 traditional, regional recipes that have been updated for modern-day tastes and available ingredients. The price and the perceived unfamiliarity with food from this region might make this book less of an impulse buy. That would be a shame.
This is a father and son work. Well the son has done all the writing and the author’s father provided a lot of the inspiration, recipes and a burning passion for New England cookery. Many generations of Yankee Chefs, in fact, as the culinary seeds were first sown with the author’s grandfather. With the influx of various immigrants over time, there are many foreign cultural influences contributing to genuine New England cookery, without that sounding like an obtuse contradiction. The combination of recipes, locally-sourced ingredients and traditions and a gradual fusion of foreign influences has all helped provide a fairly strong cultural identity. This book seeks to provide a resource for New Englanders and to lift the curtain to this cuisine for all outsiders.
This book seems to be a labour of love. It is more than just a collection of refined, updated recipes. Reading throughout you can get a sense of the author’s character, a feeling of the region and the types of food and drink that has provided the fuel for New Englanders en masse. When you look at the recipes with a cold eye, you might wonder what is so special about yet another muffin recipe, but when you consider and contemplate the recipe things might become clearer.
A full range of recipes is provided in the book’s many chapters, from breakfast treats and beverages to more substantial main courses and dishes. It is amazing how the recipes and supporting information are crammed into this relatively squat, fat book without it feeling compromised. This is a good example of design complementing and not taking over the book. The recipes are functionally laid out with all the necessary information at hand. Minor niggles such as the recipes being solely in imperial measures and a lack of an estimated preparation/cook time and portion sizes are here but that should not stop you from seriously considering this book. In some ways when you see a very good book, even the slightest niggle can become amplified because they are the only problems you see and you tend to be caring about the book.
Things are rounded off by a very comprehensive index. So what to say… if you are looking for a regional New England cookery book this could be it. Even if you are looking to get a foothold into “traditional” American cookery whilst accepting that you are only going to get a (regional) taster here, this would be a great book to consider. The high price point might make it less of an impulse buy for some, but when you consider the contents, the sheer number of recipes and the overall feel of the book it doesn’t feel over-priced or less worthy. A strong consideration for your bookshelf.
The Yankee Chef: Feel Good Food for Every Kitchen, written by Jim Bailey and published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd. ISBN 9780764341915, 312 pages. Typical price: USD34.99. YYYYY.