Bitter cover – what is it?

Posted by July 28, 2014 Cardoons, Cookbooks 3 Comments

I love the cover of my new book, it has no dust jacket. There are strong feelings about dust jackets. Some people remove them immediately, others take them off  to read the book putting them back on when they’ve finished. That doesn’t really work for cookbooks, well I hope it doesn’t for mine, I like to think people not only read them, but constantly use them. Currently it’s popular to produce cookery books without dust jackets, although this is not new. Stephanie Alexander’s fabulous The Cook’s Companion first published in 1996 for example, although the gold lettering is disappearing. More recent naked cookbooks are those by Nigel Slater and Yottam Ottolenghi.

Bitter is not only naked it has a special coating so the cover feel like suede, making it very tactile. Plus the title is debossed, yes despite spellcheck’s dislike it is a word, the opposite of embossed. On the cover and the spine of the book you can feel bitter, which is very appropriate as inside I explain how we use all our senses to perceive bitterness. In a world of smooth, cold touch screens and downloads you’ll want this book for its physicality as well as its content.

They are cardoon leaves  on the cover. Cookbook covers undergo much discussion and scrutiny by publishers and marketing people. I’m happy to say that mine have always been different thanks to my publisher Ten Speed Press who is prepared to take risks. My thinking is that if I can attract your attention by putting something unusual on the cover, you might just pick up my book and that’s the first step to buying it. Am I right? All I know is I want a cover that I can be proud of, I know so many authors who hate their book covers, I’ve loved all of mine. Why cardoon leaves? You don’t eat them (you eat the plant’s stalks), but they are very bitter, unfamiliar, and beautiful.

In honour of Bitter I’ve planted a cardoon in my garden this year. It is out of the way in a corner, when you read my book you’ll know why, it’s growing well and I’ve already harvested some stalks to add to a bitter green salad.

If you want to read more about  cardoons, check this link.


  • Sofia Reino says:

    Love the plant, the idea and the fact it is unconventional. Would totally grab my attention because of it.

  • Hi Jennifer,

    I’m so excited about the release of your new book. I think you are a brave chef, always picking unconventional subjects for your books. But they all always appealed to me! I know every single recipe of yours will work and taste fantasic. I think I cooked 80 % of Odd bits and I’m looking forward to Bitter now.
    I come from Puglia, grown up with wild cardoons and wild greens.

    I also like very much the new look of you blog 🙂

    Thanks for your great work and inspiration