If ever there was a perfect time for food books, then surely this, the era of the global Covid-19 pandemic, is it. With most of us locking down in various formats for the upcoming winter season, our kitchens will all feature prominently for the next several months while visions of vaccines dance in our heads.
Many of us love cookbooks, not necessarily because we are searching for a recipe – clearly you can find a recipe or several thousand recipes for almost anything you can imagine online – but because we are drawn to books about food for so many reasons. Some of us read cookbooks like novels – drifting lazily through the pages seeking comfort and inspiration. Some of us read cookbooks to learn. Some of us leaf through cookbooks for their pure visual beauty. Some of us read cookbooks to advance our skills and enhance our menus.
Books about food matter because food matters so greatly. Food is one of our most fundamental necessities, it is how we carve out a life. Food is the world’s biggest industry and how we make the most impact on the planet. What we eat is vitally important not just to our own health, but also for the future health of the world. And though it may not seem obvious now, today’s cookbooks are a vital, primary source of information for future historians.
So, if you are searching for meaningful gifts for everyone on your list (including yourself!) – think food books. And while you’re at it, why not support your local book seller? If you need ideas, here are a few suggestions for recent cookbooks and books about food.
Hawksworth: The Cookbook, by David Hawksworth, published by Appetite, Random House Canada, Oct 2020.
David Hawksworth, born and raised in Vancouver, is widely regarded as one of North America's best chefs. He spent a decade training at Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK before returning to Vancouver in 2000 and establishing himself as a Canadian culinary star. His restaurant, Hawksworth, opened in 2011 and Nightingale, his second Vancouver restaurant, opened in 2013.
Buy this book for anyone who loves good food, serious cooks, aspiring chefs, and all who love glamorous coffee table cookbooks.
Book of Donair: Everything you wanted to know about Halifax food that became Canada’s favourite kebab, by Lindsay Wickstrom, MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc., Canada, 2020.
Canadian Lindsay Wickstrom, like many Nova Scotians, has a passion for donairs (aka: gyros, kebabs, or doners). In 2015, donairs were named the official food of the City of Halifax, NS. This FUN, lively, interesting, and information-packed book is an ode to the humble but much beloved donair. (Note that this is not a recipe book.)
Buy this book for all the Nova Scotians on your list, anyone who likes a good read about food, and everyone who loves street food.
Baking Day with Anna Olson: Recipes to Bake Together, by Anna Olson, published by Appetite, Random House Canada, Oct 2020.
Ontario-based Anna Olson’s, latest book, Baking Day, is full of beautiful images and both savoury and sweet recipes. From gluten-free potato bread to classics such as tarte au sucre; and from toffee bacon blondies to warm pizza dip, and sloppy ciabatta bread – there is something for everyone here.
Buy this book for all aspiring AND accomplished bakers, and anyone who loves to cook and eat.
Oh She Glows for Dinner: Nourishing Plant Based Meals to Keep You Going, by Angela Liddon, published by Penguin Random House Canada, 2020.
Angela Liddon, who was born and raised in New Brunswick and now makes her home in Ontario, is a vegan tour de force; a New York Times bestselling author; and a wildly popular food blogger. Oh She Glows for Dinner is chock full of beautiful photographs and enticing recipes.
Buy this book for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone aspiring to eat a more plant based-diet.
Lost Feast: Culinary Extinction and The Future of Food, by Lenore Newman, ECW Press, 2019.
This timely book by Canadian author and geography professor, Lenore Newman, explores the foods we have loved to death (or near death) from mammoths to oysters; and from passenger pigeons to pears, and how we might stem the tide on future culinary extinctions. (Note that this is not a recipe book.)
Buy this book for anyone interested in culinary history and the future of food and eating.
Half Baked Harvest Super Simple, by Tieghan Gerard, Penguin Random House Canada, 2019.
Tieghan Gerard lives in a converted horse barn in the mountains of Colorado. She started a food blog as a teenager and has gone on to become a New York Times bestselling author with two incredibly successful cookbooks to her name. Tieghan is a born cook with a rare innate understanding of food and flavours. Half Baked Harvest Super Simple is a book that you will want to cook your entire way through.
Buy this book for anyone who loves to cook and or eat.
Lindy Mechefske is the award-winning author of Out of Old Ontario Kitchens, Sir John's Table and A Taste of Wintergreen. Watch for her new book, Ontario Picnics: A Century of Dining Outdoors, coming in Spring 2021.