The winner of Food52's 'The Piglet'

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2018's The Piglet cookbook competition may have been the best one yet. Sixteen amazing cookbooks (you can find the complete list here) went head-to-head in a bracketed contest, with the winners advancing to the next round. There were some tough calls along the way, and the usual criticism about the way the judges approached each book. 

The Piglet is different than most cookbook competitions in that there are no categories, which means that baking books competed directly against savory tomes and cuisine-specific tomes were matched up against more general volumes. It made for some interesting matches, and more than one call for a separate tournament for baking books (someone suggested The Piglet and The Tartlet as names). 

The Final Four, to borrow a phrase from basketball tournaments, were Night + Market versus BraveTart and Six Seasons taking on Kachka. In the latter competition, judge and writer Carmen Maria Machado, when faced with the task of choosing between two fantastics volumes, summed up what many of us feel about great cookbooks: "individual recipes have their value, but a cookbook is a conversation." She felt Kachka told a more compelling story, so it advanced to the last round. 

Choosing between BraveTart and Night + Market would be a daunting task for anyone due to both the disparity in genres and the quality of each book. Artist Kate Schelter's review garnered several negative comments because she chose to make substitutions in the recipes she made from BraveTart while playing it straight with the recipes from Night + Market, which she chose as the winner. 

This meant that the championship match was between Night + Market and Kachka, both worthy contenders. The judge, Lisa Lucas, is the executive director of the National Book Foundation and her review was a delight to read. Lucas felt that the volumes "feel like they are spiritually tethered in two homelands, which comes through in the cooking," adding "I felt both far away and totally at home while I cooked alongside these chefs and their gorgeous creations."

After describing her adventures in cooking from each book, Lucas found the choice difficult to make. Both cookbooks had provided delicious recipes, but Lucas gave the nod to the book that made the food come alive through the author's personal stories. Kachka is the winner of The Piglet 2018

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