What books do cookbook authors give as gifts?


As EYB Members well know, cookbooks make fantastic gifts. There is one to suit every palate and level of experience, and part of the joy of giving these as presents is seeing someone embrace cooking or baking, and sharing in their discovery. Deciding on which book to give can be a daunting task, as the number of great titles is seemingly limitless. So why not ask a cookbook author what he or she would give? That’s exactly what Annaliese Griffin did

Griffin spoke with Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs of Food52, Christopher Kimball of Milk Street, and Cathy Erway. The books they recommended were an interesting mix of newer and older, including The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, The Silver Palate Cookbook and any and everything by Yotam Ottolenghi. Kimball also suggested Chez Panisse Vegetables and Erway selected Bitter, by Jennifer McLagan. Amanda Hesser suggested The Italian Baker, by Carol Field, which just sounds like a lovely gift for a baker.

In addition to book suggestions, the authors shared their ideas of what makes a great cookbook. Most agreed that photographs were essential, not only to depict the final dish but also to elaborate on the narrative of a the recipe. There’s a downside to gorgeous photos, though. “Photos are both an easy win – people like to see what a recipe looks like – and a danger: they can intimidate readers,” Hesser wrote. “I love pizza recipes, but as soon as I see a photo of a pizza recipe, I find myself pre-dreading the various components I’ll have to make.”

Making sure the recipes really work was also a key element of a good book, as was having an authentic voice. Kimball offered another piece of advice for choosing a cookbook to give as a present. “A cookbook works as a gift if it opens up someone’s perspective on food and cooking and tells a story that is fresh and exciting,” he said.

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