Photo: KucherAV, G
Food isn’t meant to just be fuel. It should be a sensual experience, as carefully planned and anticipated as a really hot date. If you’ve gotten stuck in a food rut, these four cookbooks are going to get you out of it, and fast. Not only are these cookbooks chock full of unique recipes from diverse culinary influences, their authors go beyond your next meal and immerse you in the culture surrounding these eats. Even if you’re not known for being adventurous in the kitchen, these cookbooks provide plenty of other food for thought, from personal stories and historical context to nitty gritty how-tos and the fascinating science behind cooking. And we haven’t even mentioned the food porn yet, which comes in both illustrated and photographic forms! Gather your culinary equipment, prepare you mise en place, and get cookin’ already!
Venison by Jonathan Wipfli
Hunters rejoice: cookbook author Jon Wipfli is going to turn your next kill into a mouthwatering meal. The outdoorsman and owner of catering company and culinary instruction business The Minnesota Spoon sets his scope on deer, guiding readers through the slaying, processing, and cooking of their prey. In this cookbook packed with 150 color photos and 50 recipes, meat-lovers will learn how to make gourmet meals from cuts like ribs, roasts, loins, sirloins, shanks, and sausage scraps. If you care about where your food comes from, there’s no more direct route to eating local and organic than shooting, butchering, and cooking your own.
The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley
Crave knew Chef Sean Sherman was going places back in 2016 when we profiled his wheeled food venture, Tatanka Truck. Now the celebrated chef who grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation is taking his indigenous cuisine to a whole other level. Sherman, a member of the Oglala Lakota, first made a name for himself with his Minnesota-based catering business The Sioux Chef. Following his success with Tatanka Truck, he raised funds for a new (still under wraps) restaurant in a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign. Now, he’s sharing the recipes that catapulted him to culinary celebrity status in a cookbook unlike any other. What you won’t find among his gorgeously photographed creations: processed sugar, wheat flour, dairy, beef, pork, or chicken. What you will find: duck, bison, rabbit, walleye, wild rice, cranberries, and a plethora of herbs and seasonings. Healthy food shouldn’t look or taste this good – but in Sherman’s kitchen, it does.
Fermentation on Wheels by Tara Whitsitt
Fermentation isn’t just a “microbial transformation in which sugars are converted into acids, gases, and sometimes alcohol, transforming raw or cooked foods into a more preserved state and giving them complex, unique flavors,” it’s a movement. Tara Whitsitt, the founder of the mobile grassroots educational project Fermentation on Wheels, lives to demystify the naturally occurring process that gives us delicious wares like sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, miso, and tempeh. Fermentation is long-standing tradition; likely your grandparents or great-grandparents fermented foods from their farm harvests in wooden barrels from fall onward to be devoured in the spring in their tangy, briny new forms. Why is this antiquated form of cooking coming back into style? Because fermented foods are essential to gut health, and as we now know, gut health rules your body. Whitsitt breaks down the basics of fermentation, from the necessary supplies to salinity to starter cultures. Along the way, she stares stories from her unconventional bus-driving, food-loving nomad existence.
Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat
If you’re looking for an affordable, crash-course in cooking, Samin Nosrat is the teacher for you. Nosrat recommends reading this 400+ page tome from front to back, in order, as she outlines the four must-master elements of cooking: salt, fat, acid, and heat. You’ll learn about salt flavor spectrum, the fats of the world, the PH of kitchen staples, umami, and how to use heat as well as techniques like how to get to the heart of an artichoke, the architecture of a perfect grilled cheese sandwich, and how to plot your greens and dressing on a salad axis. Vibrant and quirky illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton lighten what otherwise might have been a lumbering behemoth of a cookbook.