The 18 Best Food Books of 2012
Jerusalem: A Cookbook, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ten Speed)
This cookbook does justice to an exciting, complicated city. Both the authors were born in Jerusalem -- one on the Jewish side, the other on the Arab side -- and became friends and long-time colleagues later on in London. The writing is honest, the photography is beautiful, and the recipes, like so many of Ottolenghi's, have an effortless, natural feel.
Dirt Candy: Flavor-Forward Food from the Upstart New York City Vegetarian Restaurant, Amanda Cohen, Ryan Dunlavey, and Grady Hendrix (Clarkson Potter)
Cohen's New York restaurant has a sense of humor and a lot of heart when it comes to smart, refined, vegetarian cooking, and her lovely comic-book-style cookbook does too. But this isn't just a collection of recipes. It's the story of how Cohen and her team worked extraordinarily hard to launch a successful, tiny, vegetarian restaurant in New York City.
Dinner: A Love Story, Jenny Rosenstrach (Ecco)
With Rosenstrach's food, it's less porn and more pragmatism. The author has been keeping a food diary for the last 14 years, writing down everything she makes with and for her family. Here are those notes with the recipes. Though the book centers on the ritual of the family meal, and the importance of sitting down together to dinner, Rosenstrach doesn't edge into food-scold territory.
Lucky Peach (McSweeney's)
We know this isn't a book, but this quarterly food journal has been consistently delivering some of the most exciting food writing, interviews, and design all year long. And it's the kind of magazine you actually want to read from cover to cover, you know, like a book. If you don't already have a subscription, consider one for 2013.
The Mile End Cookbook, Noah and Rae Bernamoff (Clarkson Potter)
Mile End Deli is of my favorite places to eat in the city and their modern, Jewish-American cooking defines what New York food culture is getting up to right now. This rich, slim cookbook tells the story of how Mile End came to be, offering recipes for the deli fundamentals, like smoked meat and pickles, but also for everyday home cooking and holiday specials.
Sweet Tooth: The Bittersweet History of Candy, Kate Hopkins
A smart, rambling meditation on the history of candy that dips a little into the food memoir genre without feeling formulaic or turning into a confection: Hopkins also explores the darker side of the sugar industry, initially supported by slavery, and reports on how corporate candy-manufacturers work now. She is the food blogger behind The Accidental Hedonist and covers a lot of ground here.