Today I'm wrestling with an intriguing newcomer: The Cook's Book of
Intense Flavors, by Robert and Molly Krause. The premise
of the book is fascinating: 101 unusual, vivid flavor combinations
and recipes to go with them.
Each combination gets a thought-provoking character précis.
Coffee, fig, and vinegar are characterized as "full-bodied
complexity"; mushroom, rose and lavender as "opposites attract".
Some are faintly un-P.C., like "turnips in a kimono"
(turnips, miso, mirin) or "Arabian Delight" (chickpea, edamame, and
coriander). But the strange pairings are evocative and
different enough for me to want to read the book for that
And perhaps that will have to suffice, because I kept finding
myself putting the book down in dissatisfaction. There's just
one recipe per flavor combination, making it hard to generalize
from the theory of what makes it work. The experience is a
little like those odd cookbooks that teach you how to improvise in
the kitchen, but give you a recipe to do it...a strangely
prescriptive experience. Or maybe I was looking for more
substance--for the essays to explain why the flavors work together
in a cultural-history context. I felt as though I was longing
for a sonnet and was handed a haiku.
I don't usually puzzle over cookbooks so much--I either like
them, or I don't, with only a little gray area. And I never
find myself picking it up and putting it down repeatedly, the way I
did with this one. So: thanks to EYB I know at least 4 of you
have this book! Have you tested it? Do the recipes bear
out their promise? Inquiring minds want to know!