50 Foods: The Essentials of Good Taste by Edward Behr

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Edward Behr is a beloved figure in my household where old copies of his magazine The Art of Eating can still be found in their original newsletter form, circa the late 1980s. These days, The Art of Eating is a beautifully bound quarterly but still remains a treasure for anyone interested in food and eating, to collect and hoard and pass on to the next generation. I was very excited, then, to receive Mr. Behr's latest book 50 Foods: The Essentials of Good Taste, for I knew that he had something to say and that he would say it with grace, authority, and good humor.

Quick Facts

Who wrote it: Edward Behr

Who published it: The Penguin Press

Highlights: This isn't a cookbook, but it is a book for cooks ... and eaters! Edward Behr takes a look at fifty of his favorite foods with the intention of sharing his thoughts on how to choose, prepare and enjoy them at their best. This is a guide to deliciousness, he writes in the introduction. And with that promise, how can we not dive in and join him in exploring the many wonderful tastes and delights of the table?

Arranged alphabetically, each food is given a short chapter that is charmingly illustrated by Mikel Jaso. Beginning with Anchovies, Apples and Artichokes, the book ends with Truffles, Vinegar and Walnuts. In between we find Baguette, Butter, Corn, Fig, Ham and Bacon, Honey, Lemon, Olive OIl, Plums and oh, so much more. With each food, we receive information how the food is grown, often both conventionally as well as organically, how to choose it and store it at home, and how to prepare it.

The author makes no bones about the fact that these are his opinions and that is one of the strengths of this book, for his passion for good food and good eating is untethered. The same goes for his passion for good drink, for each chapter ends with a 'notes on wine' section. Some of the wine notes are short, such as the Olive Oil chapter which ends simple with the word 'none' (for obvious reasons) while others are longer, such as several paragraphs for the Munster Cheese chapter.

This is a nice big book, coming in at over 400 pages, with an index. It has been endorsed by many culinary luminaries such as Rene Redzepi, Alice Waters, David Chang, Harold McGee, and Dan Barber. Quite a diverse group, proving that while this was written from the heart and mind of one man, it still has a wide reach and appeal.

Who would enjoy this book? Fans of The Art of Eating, of course. But even if you're not familiar with Edward Behr's work, do take a look at this passionate, informative book. This would also be a terrific gift for the food lover who has everything as well as the novice cook who would benefit from the enormous amount of information packed between the covers.

Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: 50 Foods: The Essentials of Good Taste by Edward Behr

Visit the author's website: The Art of Eating

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.

(Images: Dana Velden)

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Dana Velden has just finished writing her first book: Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Meditations and Recipes from a Mindful Cook which is based on her Weekend Meditation posts from The Kitchn. (Rodale Press, Fall, 2015) She lives in Oakland, CA.