The Flavor Bible is a book that I've heard a lot about, and now I know why. It's not a new book, but it's new to me. I don't know why it took me so long to finally buy it.
The subtitle, The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs describes the book perfectly. Co-author Karen Page describes the book very well in a video at Amazon by saying:
The Flavor Bible is as useful to anyone who cooks as a thesaurus is to anyone who writes. It's a guide to hundreds of ingredients and herbs, spices, and other seasonings that will best enhance their flavor.Co-author Andrew Andrew Dornenburg goes on to say:
And really what The Flavor Bible is, is a way to look at modern flavors in a whole new way, and apply them in your kitchen tonight.This isn't a cookbook, but rather a serious and indispensable reference book. Have you ever marveled at how chefs successfully combine seemingly strange ingredients, yet the result is something incredible? Well, this book cracks the code on how chefs know what goes with what.
For example, the other night on TV I was watching Michael Symon prepare a lobster dish and he said, "...vanilla goes great with lobster." That was a seriously strange-sounding combination to me. I looked it up in The Flavor Bible and, sure enough, there it was. Color me educated.
The book is written in an almost encyclopedic style. It lists an ingredient, it's attributes (season, weight, volume, cooking techniques, etc.) and then a simple list of what flavors go well with it. Bold means that several chefs agreed, and bold caps indicates that it was a very popular combination. It's really that simple.
In addition to the simple lists of accompaniments, it also has suggestions for multiple flavor combinations, and suggested dishes sprinkled throughout.
Because this isn't a cookbook per se, don't expect a bunch of great glossy photos. It does have some photos, but they aren't the star of the show. Again, this book is for reference geared toward creativity.
If you are at all interested in becoming a more creative, inventive and resourceful cook this book is a must. It will open a huge new landscape of possibilities and move you ever closer to Iron Chef status.