Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: Relae: A Book of Ideas by Christian E. Puglisi

Relae is Christian Puglisi's new cookbook, named after his Copenhagen restaurant of the same name. This is an extremely beautiful and entirely original book.  It is not quite a cookbook, although it contains a fair number of recipes, but they make up less than a quarter of the book.  As the title states, it is also a "book of ideas."  This basically means that most of the book is made up of a series of short essays about different ingredients and cooking methods.  Each of these essays are part philosophical musing, scientific explanation, technical explanations, and practical applications.  Following each essay is a list of recipes that use the philosophy/theory explained in the essay.  Puglisi's book is very high-concept, but it is also generous and genuinely useful.  By providing readers with the philosophy and science between certain methods and combinations, Puglisi's book attempts to give the reader/cook a set of ideas that can be applied to all cooking, rather than just offering a series of recipes to be precisely followed.  In other words, Puglisi gives you the skills to come up your own meals by explaining essentially how chefs (or at least Puglisi) comes up with his own recipes.  This book is very beautiful, and would make an excellent gift for a very serious cook. 
(I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.)

Counter Culture Coffee Packaging

Durham, North Carolina-based company Counter Culture Coffee has redesigned their coffee packaging to look like Penguin Books.  They borrowed the saturated colors, font, and a slightly off-kilter version of the white-banded covers for which Penguin Books are known.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Postcards from Pelican: 100 Subjects in One Box

Following up on the popularity of their Penguin Classics, Puffin, and Ladybird cover postcard series, Penguin has released a boxed set of postcards with covers from their Pelican non-fiction series.  This is perhaps my favorite set; not only does it have a great trompe l'oeil cover and spines, but the covers they chose include great vintage covers like Adolescent Boys of East London, Girls and Sex, Alcoholism, and The Strange Case of Pot.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review: Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing by Anya von Bremzen

First of all, I love the cover of this book, which resembles cookbooks from the 1960s.  I also love the title, which is of course a play on the title of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  When I first heard the title of this book, I laughed out loud.  Soviet cooking?  Really?  And of course that was precisely the reaction that von Bremzen wanted.  The title, and the cover, give you an excellent sense of the tone of this book, which is humorous and nostalgic, and a bit sad, and filled with strange and kitschy-sounding food.  Von Bremzen was born in the Soviet Union and escaped with her mother to Philadelphia when she was 10.  This book gives you an excellent sense of life in the Soviet Union through food and personal experience.  She shows the reader what daily life in the Soviet Union was like, describing both her love of her mother's cooking and her fear of the secret police. It was a wonderful read, both illuminating and fun.
(I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.)