Holiday Recommendations from Our Staff

Cooking & Food

This Twain-Food mash up is the perfect path backwards into some amazing American food lore. A medley of nostalgia, gratitude and history, Beahrs uses Twain’s culinary laments and loves as a prism to analyze the American table’s past, present and future. Funny, smart, caustic in a way only Twain could be and, ultimately, a hopeful call to the reclamation and preservation of both American landscapes and food-ways. –Shannon


The Geometry of Pasta by Caz Hildebrand, Jacob Kenedy

I love this book for so many reasons! Visually, the contrast of black-and-white with the variety of shapes scattered over the page is so appealing. Learning the etymology of the pasta is fascinating (maccherone probably stems from the makaria or “food of the blessed”), but at its heart this is a great cookbook. Browsing the pages is inspiring—matching the sumptuous pasta with an equally delectable sauce is sublime, delicious fun! –Holly


Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher

Fisher, always delightful and amusing, takes us from her childhood in California circa 1912 to France then Switzerland and finally to Mexico, recounting her awakening to food and drink. Her culinary experiences are emotional ones: she savors the people, places and milieus as much as what is on the plate. She tells of her first Oyster (a blue tip), her encounters with French cuisine and local wines in Dijon, the tribulations of sea travel, and even the horrors of airplane food on a trip in the early days of commercial air travel. Any one who has not read her yet has a treat in store. –Pamela


Holiday Recommendations from Our Staff

At Home with Madhur Jaffrey: Simple, Delectable Dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka by Madhur Jaffrey

For the cultural cook on your gift list, Madhur Jaffrey has produced a lovely collection of simple recipes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.  There are stories to go along with every chapter and recipe, as well as bright colorful photos.  Try the Mushroom Bhaaji or the Lamb Korma in Almond-Saffron Sauce.  Yum!  Indian food is perfect for those cold winter evenings! –Hilary

Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson
Chad Robertson’s life distilled: surf in the morning, bake amazing things in the afternoon. Enough said. Read this and live it. –Jamie


Pumpkin soup with green chilies and lime, pineapple empanadas, and many types of mole are just some of the delightful recipes to be found in Diana Kennedy’s Oaxaca al Gusto. Illustrated with maps, photographs of the region and its people, and illustrations of ingredients and finished dishes, this cookbook is a travelogue, a tribute to the area’s many fine cooks, and a sourcebook on the diverse regional cuisines of the state of Oaxaca. Diana Kennedy shares rich contextual information from her research and travels for each carefully chosen recipe, also providing information about cooking techniques and specific local ingredients. –Karen

Staff Recommendations from Elliott Bay

Communion by Kim Fay (Things Asian)

As a young woman Kim Fay moved from Seattle to Vietnam to find adventure and a place to write her novel. What she found was a profoundly richer and deeper experience, much like the nearly indescribable dish banh beo, a medallion of steamed rice batter that is topped with shrimp and pork crackling. Returning to the States, she resettled in L.A. with easy access to Little Saigon, the largest Vietnamese community outside of Vietnam. But after more than a decade “back home,” the author found herself nearly insatiably hungry for the flavors and the foods of Vietnam. So she returned to the country and sought out chefs, cooking classes, starred restaurants, roadside food carts, friends, and family to fill her hunger. What she found upon returning were not only the rich, deep flavors she craved, but also the universal experience of sharing food with those we love. A truly splendid homage to the people, places, and of course food that is Vietnam. –Holly