What Is The Most Essential Book?

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Joined May 24, 2011
Funny how's there two totally opposed opinions on the book by the Culinary Inst. of America.  I would like to have a look at the book and see if that would be helpful to a so-so at-home cook.
 
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Joined Oct 2, 2012

A "go to" book is hardly even a reality anymore in this day of apps and "google" or Bing!"

Mostly, I would advise people to keep it Fresh and Lokal!

Hard to go wrong there...

The basics, as far as sauces or how to make a risottos sort of thing?

Print it out! Giggles!!!

Your inner Spirit will make it all work....your food will shine.

Love is the ingredient that makes everything taste better.
 

phatch

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The Professional Chef is a good book. It's full of straight forward recipes based on good technique. It is designed to be augmented with  classtime discussion however.

But it often scales poorly to home cooks and is not as easily searched as many other books geared to the home cook. And the recipes are very terse where a home cook might expect or need more explanation of technique as its not something they might do frequently.

I think it's worth going through once for a home cook, but not for most to own. It's a good example of what libraries are for.
 
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Joined Feb 2, 2013
Hello,

I've been reading for the past few days different posts written on this forum, amazon and goodreads in order to find out what culinary book is appropriate for me. I noted down plenty of book titles. However, I don't know which book to choose. Being a European I am afraid that some of the titles might be more suitable for the American public. I am starting from scratch. I want to learn why a certain ingredient goes with another, how to cut and why it is necessary in that way. In conclusion, to learn the basics of cooking.

This is the list (no intended order):

The Professional Chef - Culinary Institute of America

On food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen - Harold McGee

New Complete Techniques - Jacques Pepin

Culinary Fundamentals - American Culinary Federation

Essentials of Cooking (2003) - James Peterson

Escoffier - Le Guide Culinaire (2011) - Auguste Escoffier

Cookwise (1997) - Shirley Corriher

Joy of Cooking (2006) -  Irma Rombauer (though I read that the past editions are better)

The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion (2009) - Sharon Herbst

Larousse Gastronomique (2009) 

I am opened to more titles. I add that in my country most of these books start from approximately 90$ to 120$ for the Professional Chef.
 
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Joined Dec 4, 2012
I started my culinary road via my Mom's "Betty Crocker" cookbook, but advanced to the Fannie Farmer cookbook in the late 60s. (still have that great little paperback! LOL) As I have traveled this road, to more advanced skills/techniques, I still think Fannie Farmer is a great initial source, but have to agree that I've learned some valuable lessons through Cook's Illustrated and their test kitchen. (my pastry skills are from a culinary program) Had the chance to peruse the Joy of Cooking book at a later date, and thought it was a good book for a beginner/home cook. So really hard to eliminate down to just one "essential" book. But then, I love reading any cookbook...read them like a novel! But that's just me..... :D
 
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Joined Oct 27, 2012
With all due respect Joy of cooking is a great book for the everyday cook with very basic and long winded recipes. If you are looking for a professional level cook book the On Cooking and the Professional Chef do the trick. I agree also with the Classical cooking the modern way is an excellent book as well.
 
965
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Joined Apr 4, 2012
It's the 1997 edition of Joy of Cooking that upset a lot of people. A lot of old favorites were taken out and the book was put together by a bunch of "guest" chefs, rather than retaining the tone and text Irma Rombauer was famous for.  There are also lower-fat versions of some of the old recipes. The edition previous to that--from the 1970s--was the bestselling edition of the book ever, and was much loved. The change in 1997 was fairly dramatic.

The 2006 edition has restored a lot of the original text and old, standby recipes, and expanded the Know Your Ingredients and Cooking Techniques sections. I have three editions of the book--1997, 2006 and a 1967 printing and the one I use the most is the 2006. It covers foods and food trends that were not available to cooks in the earlier versions.  Having looked at them quite a bit, I, personally, think it's nonsense that the older editions are better than the 2006 edition for today's cooks.

Joy is a great, basic cookbook for home cooks but I think it is very "American" in its recipe collection, even though the 2006 edition has recipes for things like pho and fajitas in addition to American classics. 
 
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Joined Jan 24, 2013
I agree that the "Larousse Gastronomique" is an exceptional book ! But for me the most essential one is "Cuisine de reference".
 
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Joined Feb 2, 2013
I thank you all for your help.  ChicagoTerry, thank you for clarifying what edition I should buy, in case I choose JofC. ChocolateDive, I agree that there is no single thorough  book. I intend to buy my first book out of many, one which will help me with the basics, and after that use them to cook general/most used at home recipes. After I will buy the book I shall post the title here.
 
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Gastronomique is a wonderful book, was just leafing through it last night. I also like and often refer to On Cooking (my school text book). The New Professional Chef from the CIA is also a favorite.

The Making of a New Cook may be good, but it sits on my shelf because it has no color illustrations (not even glossy text pages), and seems boorish too read. That's just my opinion, I'm sure it's a great book for learning once you get passed that.
 
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I just read on another thread, on this forum, that a good starter book may be ”Classical Cooking. The Modern Way” (3rd edition) by Eugene Pauli (It costs 90$). 
 
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Joined May 24, 2011
It's important to me to have a book that will lay flat and stay open on the counter (I have a socalled cookbook holder but it sure ain't perfect). I have an oldish cookbook passed down to me by my mother; it's not very good as far as instructions go, but it's ring bound so I keep reaching for that one out of the 20 cookbooks I own. 

Does Joy of Cooking lay flat? 

When I'm declared Dictator of the World I will be very nice and make it illegal to sell improperly bound cookbooks.
 
 
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Joined Jan 27, 2013
I would recommend the Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. It doesn't contain recipes as such, but a list of 99 flavours and how they are combined. It is very well written and a light, enjoyable read. An excellent book to have alongside any of the afore-mentioned volumes.
 
1,201
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Joined Jan 24, 2013
I would recommend the Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. It doesn't contain recipes as such, but a list of 99 flavours and how they are combined. It is very well written and a light, enjoyable read. An excellent book to have alongside any of the afore-mentioned volumes.
This actually sounds a cool book to have in the kitchen.
 
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Joined Apr 4, 2012
The latest Joy mostly lays flat--except if you are trying to use recipes at the beginning or end of the book--say, the first and last 80 or so pages. I keep leather book weight in my kitchen to keep books open on the counter while I'm using them.

In addition to the Flavor Thesaurus, there is also The Flavor Bible, which lists 100s of different foods/flavors along with flavors and flavor combinations for which they have an affinity.
 
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Joined Nov 27, 2012
Absolutely The Joy of Cooking because some people were born without any common sense whatsoever and The Fanny Farmer Cookbook seems to be too confusing to a lot of folks I talk to. Even my 7 year old granddaughter can make simple recipes found in The Joy of Cooking.
 

nicko

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A really good book out recently is Essential Pepin which comes with a DVD.  
Barry I totally agree. I love that book it is one of my favorites and I have watched lessons on the dvd numerous times. The omelette session has to be my favorite.
 

nicko

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For a very technical cooking book I think "The Best Recipe" is one of the best for the home cook. I also think it is a great one for the pro simply because Cook's Illustrated does such an incredible job of testing an verifying what works and what doesn't. I also like that they try to figure out how to take a lengthy prep time and reduce it without impacting flavor. Time and Time again this book is the one I pick up for my day to day cooking.
 

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