Eating food is no longer just about satisfying our basic need for nourishment. There's been a rise in the global food culture with more people than ever taking an interest in what makes a particular dish unique, as well as the master chefs behind exclusive gastronomic experiences. Staying clear of the typical cookbook, here are four enlightening reads that talk about various aspects of the food business, from discovering century-old eateries in the streets of Old Delhi to learning about the blood, sweat, and tears that go behind creating a memorable dish at the legendary elBulli.
To call the street food of Old Delhi in India legendary would be an understatement. There are eateries here that have been serving limited dishes, prepared the same way, for more than a century now. Add to that the historical importance of the area, and its vintage charm will impress the most ardent of travellers. Pamela Timms captures the craving for comfort food that Delhiites hold close to their hearts in her detailed and brilliant book Korma, Kheer and Kismet. Tracing the stories behind some of the most iconic restaurants, she brings to the table the viewpoint of an outsider. As a foreigner, she also manages to get away with her persistent questioning about recipes and food preparations, adding anecdotes and tales from the past that not even locals know. The book is a gourmand's dream come true but also works as a guide for those wanting to explore the narrow lanes of Old Delhi for an unforgettable finger-licking adventure.
A famous journalist, writer, and acclaimed food critic, Jay Rayner's writings on food and restaurants make for a devilishly enjoyable obsession to have. In My Dining Hell, he plays with the idea that "people like reviews of bad restaurants." Whether it is the modern-day fascination with gossip or merely a need to know about places to avoid, My Dining Hell is where Rayner brings his sarcastic, brutally honest, and analytical touch to a handful of the worst restaurants he has had the displeasure of visiting. A praiseworthy feature about this short read is that Rayner doesn't hold back from sharing his thoughts on all types of restaurants, be it a McDonalds or the popular fine-dining establishment, Marco Pierre White Steakhouse and Grill. An invaluable read for food lovers, the book is an essential one for those who like to blog or write about their culinary escapades.
Samuel Pepys was a prominent diarist whose notes, written over a decade, provided a window into the life of individuals in the 17th century. The Joys of Excess consists of dates from Samuel's diaries, wherein food, drinks, gatherings, and dinner parties play an essential role. As a parliamentarian, he is privy to the finest of gourmet experiences, including pandering in exotic preparations, like hot chocolate, that was relatively new at the time. Anyone with interest in food habits or history, for that matter, will find the book thoroughly captivating, packed with fanciful gastronomic indulgences that leave the reader curious and hungry.
There's very little that hasn't been said about elBulli and the excellent Ferran Adria. A genius in the kitchen, he redefined the way people treat and eat food. Lisa Abend takes a novel approach to the magic of elBulli in The Sorcerer's Apprentices. Instead of Ferran, she focuses on the many hopefuls who come to work at what was the best restaurant in the world at one time. From applying for an internship to the first day in the kitchen, Abend follows the apprentices as they struggle through the long hours and delicate work, living in a remote location, solely for a chance to learn from a culinary genius. Giving every story a personal touch, The Sorcerer's Apprentices is an unhindered window into the kitchen of elBulli. It will make you root for the young and passionate chefs while simultaneously leave you in awe of Ferran Adria.