Remember the pre-Amazon years, when sitting cross-legged in a bookstore and sifting through cookbooks for hours was one of the most thoughtful gestures of friendship? Now that it's always Black Friday at Amazon, everyone presumes you bought that cookbook for 40% off with a single click. In an era when the perceived value of a book with a $30 list price is $18 at best, a gift pairing seems like part of the "deal."
Preferably something locally made and ingestible, as none one of us really needs another Sur La Table spatula tied to that Dearie Julia Child memoir. A bottle of Burgundy? Certainly a better Boeuf Bourguignon choice, but Child was reportedly a big gin fan. Now that sounds like fun. Check back over the next few weeks for our favorite combos from the past year in publishing.
And if you still buy your books for full price at your local bookshop, and we really hope you do, all the better. Consider it a local business holiday donation and throw in the gift pairing anyway.
The Art of Fermentation + Granny Choe's Kimchi:
Because a jar of kimchi makes The Art of Fermentation seem that much more attainable. The 500-page manual by Sandor Ellix Katz is a must-have encyclopedia for any food preservers on your list obsessed with "Growing Mold Cultures" (Chapter 10) or who use words like hamanatto (whole fermented soybean "nuggets") during office coffee breaks.
A local kimchi pairing is a must here, to avoid being banned from those Cottage Food parties next year. Granny Choe's Kimchi is not for the faint of heart, with a fantastic, heady chile pepper and gingery spice that becomes more intense as the jar ages. "Pungent contents under pressure. Open with extreme common sense," reads the label. Not bad advice for both your 2013 masato (a traditional African beer in which chewing and spitting out the cassava helps initiate fermentation) and Art of Fermentation cooking adventures, actually.
The World Atlas of Beer + A Growler:
The World Atlas of Beer (or actually, Salty Snacks or Emeril's Kicked-Up Sandwiches) is an ideal gift for someone you know likes beer but isn't really up on their IPA game. Its coffee table-size makes it easy to flip to sections like one on Bière de Garde, a French farmhouse ale that we're pretty sure New Orleans-based Lagasse would be happy to see alongside his po-boy recipes in Emeril's Kicked-Up Sandwiches. The latter is a surprisingly hearty book (in terms of recipe quality) for what amounts to yet another all-American sandwich book. There's even a bread chapter with recipes for homemade English muffins, semolina pizza dough, pumpernickel and white sandwich bread, and several interesting condiment recipes.
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For those more adventurous sorts, Salty Snacks by Cynthia Nims handled those cravings as creatively as we've seen for football fare of late. Cumin-lentil crackers, popcorn with chili-lime butter and cotija cheese, five-spice crispy duck skin and cornbread-chile biscotti all make the party-worthy list. What to pair with any of these three titles? A growler from Eagle Rock or your favorite local brewery. Because a 6-pack or 750 ml bottle invites shelf time. Growlers, scream, "Drink me now" -- and we're talking about Emeril Lagasse and cornbread-chile biscotti here.
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