Buying a cookbook as a gift for the food nerd in your life can be intimidating. It seems there are now 5011 cookbooks for every niche diet, cuisine, and interest out there, from “50 Shades of Chicken” to “The Hungover Cookbook.” Instead of trying to pick the most niche book you can find, why not go for one of the most universal? We love these four books because they focus on principles instead of a rundown of recipes, meaning that they’re timeless and useful for everyone from the novice cook to the veteran chef. Bon Appetit and happy reading!
Vegetable Literacy– Deborah Madison has been a shining light in vegetarian cooking for decades and this book may be her best work yet. By combining a little knowledge of botany with culinary wisdom, she blows your mind in the best possible way. Once you realize that cumin, coriander, fennel, and dill are all in the carrot family, layering them on your next carrot salad suddenly makes a ton of tasty sense. Your next Imperfect box will feel like a joyous family reunion!
The Flavor Bible– Have you ever gotten a vegetable in your kitchen only to realize that you have no idea what other flavors it would go well with? This is the book to turn to every time. The Flavor Bible will set you free and empower you to be a more intuitive cook who doesn’t rely on recipes. After using this book you will be able to play with flavors artfully, the way a jazz pianist plays with chords.
Ratio– Alton Brown once compared the knowledge in this book to Prometheus bringing humans fire from the gods. Whether or not you care about Food Network stars or Greek mythology, what you need to know is that reading this book is the single biggest step you can take towards becoming a “recipe-independent” cook that there is. In “Ratio,” you’ll learn to think about every food from bread dough to salad dressing as a series of relationships between ingredients instead of fixed amounts. Prepare to nerd out on some culinary math and then emerge as a culinary deity.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat– Samin Nosrat’s breakout food book is charming, informative, and more approachable than a puppy wearing a “pet me” sign. She seamlessly presents years of restaurant know-how into terms and cute infographics that the rest of us can digest and use. This is a book that will change how you think about cooking forever and for the better.