On a trip to the Atlanta area in March, I was able to pick up two truly excellent cookbooks from two Atlanta based chefs that I have gotten to know a little bit over the past couple of years: Asha Gomez’s My Two Souths and Steven Satterfield’s Root to Leaf. (Go buy them both now…you won’t regret it!)
This past week I finally the closed the back cover of My Two Souths and I had finished Root To Leaf back in May. To put some context on “finished” it is important to note that I read cookbooks cover to cover…every recipe and every word. Typically I do this before I cook a single recipe out of the book. I find that it is really important to understand the author/chef before you start learning from them. The question that I like to ask myself at the end of a cookbook is, “If I can take only one food related lesson from this author, what is it?”
For My Two Souths the answer for me was all about people. I believe that Asha is telling us to always be mindful and respectful of the food traditions of a culture, but that sharing cooking and food with the people that are currently in your life and that you love is what really matters. Asha’s stories give such wonderful context to the dishes she is teaching us about. She tells us all about not only how to make the dish but also about the occasions that she connects the dishes to, whether it is a Wednesday morning breakfast or a grand wedding feast.
For Root to Leaf I admit that Steven might have helped me out with the one lesson when he signed the book “Eat with the seasons!” Although this was far from an unfamiliar concept to me, Root to Leaf excels at providing the reader with the knowledge about the produce in all its forms and phases, the technical skills to make the ingredients their most delicious selves, and the most stunning photography that I have ever encountered in a cookbook. (It’s stripped down and minimalist in some ways, but man does it speak to me!) Steven’s tome is a vegetable cookery reference book with soul.
I have little interest in “reviewing” cookbooks, but rather this post is intended as a thank you to Asha and Steven, and an opportunity to let them know my main takeaways from their labors of love. My guess is that they don’t get a ton of that, but I could be wrong.
Have you read these cookbooks? What do you think? How do you read cookbooks in general? Feel free to comment!