Cardoons everywhere

By | Books, Paris | 4 Comments

Springtime in Paris gets all the acclaim, the song April in Paris celebrates the beauty of that time of year – the classic rendition is by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. While I love April in Paris too, November, a month that is often derided in the northern hemisphere, is a great time to be in this city. Not only are cardoons available in the markets, they are growing in the public parks, like the Luxembourg gardens.  Anyone who knows me, or who has read Bitter knows I’m passionate about cardoons.


I was thrilled to learn that Aya Brackett, the photographer for Bitter, won a prestigious award for her images in the book. You will be very impressed when you see who the judges were. Aya took a beautiful photograph of cardoons that you can see on her blog post, if you don’t have the book yet.

When I talk to journalists about my book Bitter, it’s often pointed out to me that cardoons are not easy to buy in the USA. This is true, but it shouldn’t be the case. Cardoons are grown commercially in California, so if there was more demand, they would be readily available. (By the way you can find cardoons at Fiesta Farms in Toronto). Think back 10 years, how easy was it to buy radicchio? Consumers can create the demand, so it is up to you to help me make cardoons more popular. It is true that they require work to prepare, but they’re are worth it. Their bitterness makes them perfect in rich braises, or cooked under a blanket of béchamel and cheese. You can also eat the inside stalks raw in salad or with a dip.

We should also celebrate cardoons by planting them in our gardens, so we can enjoy their beautiful silvery foliage.

Two books you should read

By | Books | 2 Comments

When Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes was published some people thought I was crazy. I received emails accusing me of trying to kill people by encouraging them to cook with animal fat. And while I had a bibliography I was vilified by some for not having footnotes and extracts from scientific journals. I was writing a cookbook after all. I read widely, I asked lots of questions and concluded that it was better, healthier, and most of all tastier to cook with animal fats. Despite winning the James Beard Cookbook of the Year my message in FAT slid under the radar with most people. Finally this year, 6 years after my book was published, Time magazine ran a cover story on why you should eat butter.

Now a very good book The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet has been published. It explains how we have been mislead by bad science, corporate and entrenched interests. And for all those doubters it has a huge bibliography and is full of footnotes. Thank you Nina, your book is a fascinating read.

Perhaps what we should all understand is that we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the past and what we have eaten in the past. We should understand that science isn’t always objective. Everyone has an agenda, mine is for you to eat well and enjoy food with flavour, which animal fat provides.

I’d also like you to buy my book and Nina’s too.

Out and About with Bitter

By | Books | One Comment

Although Bitter won’t be on sale until September (you can always pre-order) I am beginning my campaign for this overlooked taste immediately.

I will be talking about taste and bitterness next Sunday July 13 at Savour Stratford in Stratford Ontario.

On September 17th at lunchtime, I will be in New York City at the 92Y.

Next year at the end of January I will be in Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle and San Francisco – so watch for news and updated links.

Book number 4 – Bitter

By | Books | 5 Comments
I made a promise to blog every week and of course I’ve already broken it. But, I do have a good excuse –  my book Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, with Recipes. I am in the last stage of the book’s production, which means a lot of careful reading, looking for typos, missing words and mistakes of any kind.

Cookbooks are complicated to put together, often a recipe runs a few lines long so instead of going over a page, you trim the recipe and/or the headnote so it all fits on a single page. Often words get dropped or are left behind so the text is missing a word, or has one too many. I complicate the process by adding quotes and lots of sidebars that don’t always neatly fit. As they are my words, I have to be very careful not to read what I want to read rather than what is actually on the page. This is an all-consuming task and I find myself unable to deal with anything else. I have a short break at the moment, but at the end of the week, I’ll be back at it. It will be my last chance to check the manuscript.

The book is looking beautiful. The current trend is for naked books, that is without dust jackets. I know some people remove the jackets as soon as they buy a book, I keep my books covered. Not sure why, perhaps because they often all start to look the same naked. Well even naked Bitter will stand out. The cover has a special coating which makes the image pop giving it almost a three dimensional look. (And just what is that on the cover? –  I’m not telling although I am sure some of you will guess.) Another special touch, the word Bitter is debossed so the book is very tactile, and isn’t that why we love books? Yes it, will be available as an e-book too, but you won’t be able to run your finger over the cover and feel the title.

September 16 is the publication date, so after this intense period of concentration the book will be sent to the printers and there will be nothing left to do, except worry that I missed something. I hope to have a copy in my hands sometime in the late summer.

The next stage will be what my French friend calls le service après-vente, or selling the book. This is definitely not my forte but I will be doing a couple of events in Toronto and I hope to be in New York around the release date so I’ll keep you posted. If you want a sneak preview of the book watch my chat with Jamie Drummond at Good Food Revolution.

More behind the Scenes

By | Books | 7 Comments

Life is a little hectic and I’ve been traveling. So I am just posting another interesting link about the food styling for Odd Bits. Next week I will tell you about the fabulous lardo I ate in Michigan.
Here are the food stylist’s comments about working on Odd Bits, read more