08 December 2018

Weekend Cooking: Gift Guide for Food-Loving Readers

As we finish up Hanukkah and head into Christmas (the perils of the dual-religion family), I find myself relying heavily on tried-and-true dinners and less on experimentation.

For example, this last week we had beans and rice, chicken parm, quinoa Buddha bowls, and grilled salmon. All tasty and all family favorites, but not necessarily good fodder for blogging or for sharing on Weekend Cooking.

I suspect that you too are saving your culinary energy for holiday meals and Christmas cookies, so today, instead of a cookbook or a recipe, I want to tell you about three good food-related books that crossed my desk this fall. I liked them all but never got around to writing full, formal reviews. My procrastination paid off, though, because these niche books are perfect for gift giving.

Review: How to Drink Like a Mobster by Albert W. A. SchmidHow to Drink Like a Mobster by Albert W. A. Schmid (Red Lightning Books, September 1). This cocktail book, written by a mixologist and Gourmand Award winner, is as fun as the subtitle suggests: "Cocktails Guaranteed to Bring Out Your Inner Gangster." The first part of the book includes a mobster glossary, just in case you're not a Button (official member of the Mafia), along with equipment, speakeasy rules, ingredients, techniques, and some base recipes. The second part is a series of short biographies of famous gangsters and descriptions of important events, laws, and places related to the mob. The cocktail recipes are in the final section, arranged by main spirit (vodka, rum, and so on). The drinks range from classics, like the Gibson, to more unusual drinks, like the Gunfire (a coffee drink). Schmid ties each cocktail into the mob world by explaining the origin of the drink's name or by providing a short history of the cocktail itself. This is a delight to read and would make a great gift for the cocktail-loving Mafia fans in your life.

Review: What Makes a Wine Worth Drinking by Terry TeiseWhat Makes a Wine Worth Drinking by Terry Teise (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 6). This collection of linked essays is written by a wine importer and writer who has won multiple awards, including the James Beard Foundation's Award for Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional. The book is not a how-to guide to buying wines but is a contemplation on the interconnections among the wine growers, their land, their wine, and those of us who enjoy the results. Teise compares our connection to small wine producers to our relationship with the vendors we get to know at our local farmer's market. He also writes about contemporary issues in the wine world, his own wine journey, and how very personal wine drinking can be. His approach is based on his experiences as both a wine drinker and a professional, and he prefers wines that enhance his life rather than those that have a muting effect or take over the moment. To Teise, a wine should be "honest and authentic. That and nothing more." From casual sipper to avid collector, the wine lover on your gift list will find a lot to think about.

Review: The Bread and the Knife: A Life in 26 Bites by Dawn DrzalThe Bread and the Knife: A Life in 26 Bites by Dawn Drzal (Arcade, September 11). Written by a former cookbook editor and well-known food writer, this collection of twenty-six personal essays highlight the strong link between food and memory. The pieces are arranged alphabetically from "Al Dente" to "Zucchini Blossoms," and each ingredient, technique, or cooking term prompts Drzal's thoughts on family, childhood, travel, friends, work, and relationships. She tells us about her grandparents, summer camp, dinner parties from her early years in New York City, M. F. K. Fisher, and the year she learned about dieting. You'll also find a few recipes (such as her stepfather's stromboli stuffing) intertwined with Drzal's descriptions of memorable meals (including a thank-you dinner at La Colombe d'Or), thoughts on quasi-vegetarianism, and stories about her marriages. I read this one slowly, one yummy bite at a time. This is the perfect book for the foodies on your gift list, and you'll want a copy to put by your own bedside as well.

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

NOTE: Mr. Linky sometimes is mean and will give you an error message. He's usually wrong and your link went through just fine the first time. Grrrr.


rhapsodyinbooks 12/8/18, 6:06 AM  

How to Drink Like a Mobster sounds really interesting to me because of the part about laws, and of course the history aspect. The other books sound good too - thanks for highlighting them!

Mae Travels 12/8/18, 6:26 AM  

Wine lore and the relationship of food and memory are two subjects that interest me a lot -- I'll look into these books! Somehow we drink wine so much that we never have become cocktail drinkers, and don't keep the ingredients in the house, so the first book wouldn't be as appealing. Good choices!

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Tina 12/8/18, 7:40 AM  

We had gotten deep into the cocktail world when I joined up with some ladies at a former blog called Cocktail Puppy. We got fairly creative and I have since cut waaaay back on liquor. Wine I still enjoy in moderation, makes a lovely compliment to dinner. These books are great gift ideas.

bermudaonion 12/8/18, 7:53 AM  

What Makes Wine Worth Drinking sounds perfect for this time of year when I only have short periods of time to read.

Jackie McGuinness 12/8/18, 8:08 AM  

Not much happened this week as we are both suffering from colds, the perils of airplane travel.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 12/8/18, 8:11 AM  

I love the sound of The Bread and The Knife. That's exactly the sort of food narrative I love to read.

Heidenkind 12/9/18, 12:43 AM  

Some great book recommendations! I may have to gift a few of these to myself :)

Nan 12/9/18, 1:45 PM  

I am always amazed how the mob has become so "safe" now.
I wonder if a "quasi-vegetarian" might be a fellow we know who is a vegetarian, except for eating turkey on Thanksgiving!

Deb in Hawaii 12/9/18, 7:20 PM  

All three of these books look interesting--particularly The Bread and the Knife. Thank you for sharing.

I didn't post anything this week until today, so I am linking up a tasty mushroom soup. ;-)

sherry fundin 12/11/18, 1:56 PM  

How To Drink Like A Mobster...what fun.
sherry @ fundinmental

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