What a time this is for cookbooks and singular-ingredient tomes! But 50 Foods: The Essentials of Good Taste (Penguin Press, $35), by The Art of Eating founder Edward Behr, is a refreshing pivot. In Behr’s direct style, 50 Foods takes us through the history, value, preparation, and uses of the ingredients Behr is most passionate about. From artichokes to walnuts, Behr writes with authority about the attributes of particular foods (mostly raw produce). But there’s no throat-clearing. Rather, Behr’s wide-eyed curiosity enlivens every subject with clarity and simplicity. You might think you know baguettes, but do you know how to spot a winner at a bakery before you buy? Oysters: What’s the best way to wash down those raw beauties? And do you know how to clean an anchovy? The answers are all here. Plus, since Behr defines the essentials of good taste, cheese is the subject of six chapters. 50 Foods reminds us that great ingredients play an integral role in our lives. It’s the perfect self-help book for those who live to eat.
Available for $17.50 from Amazon.