Mark Bittman's newest cookbook, Kitchen Matrix, is an original recipe book for sure. It is made up predominantly of images, and not the food porny type of images we've become accustomed to. The photographs are straight-on and no-nonsense. As the title of the book suggests, the images and the text essentially come together to form diagrams. As different looking as this book is from Bittman's previous cookbooks, it actually draws its content and general concept from his articles and earlier books. Bittman's recipes often include a simple model recipe and then multiple possible variations on it. Kitchen Matrix basically does the same thing, but with the addition of photographs instead of purely textual explanations. I really like the way Bittman writes his recipes, and I think the idea behind this book is interesting and original. However, even though the images are supposed to make the basic concept of Bittman's recipes even easier to understand, I find that it actually makes for a cluttered and at times confusing book. Perhaps with time one would get used to the structure, but I for one find it unnecessarily fussy. There are so many little boxes of tiny recipes without ingredients separated out, and some sections have a master recipe in a small font at the very bottom of the page and then photos of different groups of types of ingredients. The theory is that you can pick and choose between those groups of ingredients, but in the process of reading the book, I found myself searching all over the page to find the ingredients. Some sections just include straight-forward recipes. Others include four basic cooking types (baked, braised, mashed, fried, for potatoes) and then under each type one main recipe and then under that two variations. Does that sound confusing? It is. The book includes too many different types of layouts, and that exacerbates what is already an unfamiliar and strange layout for recipes. I think it's an interesting idea, but generally, it's too fussy for me, and particularly given that it's supposed to be especially simple.
(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.)