Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Recipes and Food

November 6, 2012

Finding the tastiest choices for food book gifts

It's that time of year again, when retailers deck their halls, radio stations relentlessly jingle and cookbooks go forth and multiply.

The dawn of the holiday season also marks an onslaught from the publishing world — a rush of food books that begins in August and refuses to slow down until every family in America has gifted (and perhaps regifted) at least a dozen. Or maybe it just feels that way.

The upshot of all this is that there truly is a food book for everyone on your shopping list. Should you care to go that route, we've sussed out some of the best to help streamline at least that leg of your shopping trip.

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FOR COOKBOOK GEEKS

Fancy a sunderland pudding? Ever wonder how to dress a calf's head? Publisher Andrews McMeel has teamed up with The American Antiquarian Society to publish reproductions of 100 cookbooks documenting the early American cooking experience. "American Cookery" (Andrews McMeel, $22.99) by Amelia Simmons was originally published in 1796 and is believed to be the first cookbook to document American culinary techniques. It offers a window into those days with recipes for items such as spruce beer and tongue pie set beside page images from the original cookbook.

Also part of the series is America's first Jewish cookbook, "Jewish Cookery Book: On Principles of Economy" (Andrews McMeel, $28.99) by Esther Levy. It originally was published in 1871 and includes recipes for fish balls and frimsel (noodle) soup. Its recipes, menu suggestions and household management tips aimed to help European immigrants adapt to their new country while maintaining their religious heritage.

Both volumes are perfect for the armchair anthropologist in your life.

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FOR REGULAR GEEKS

Does your loved one stand over a pot of boiling water with a thermometer? Wonder why salt makes steak juicy? Muse out loud about why russets make fluffier mashed potatoes than red bliss? We got it covered.

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