Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Pick your best holiday food book

A heap of thoughtful offerings to you and yours



Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. And since we've no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

So let's all turn off our iSomethings, sink into a big, comfy chair, and curl up beside a fireplace —metaphoric or real — with a darn good book.

What better choice than one about that most typical and timely of topics for the holiday season, the one that's right up there with Santa, all the twinkly lights and the birth of a baby named Jesus to push back the darkness — food.

From my "best-to-read" list, I've got more than a few suggestions, whether it's a good food book for giving, or one that will draw you into your own holiday bliss, or prove itself to be a reliable friend year after year.

But first, more than a few eclectic book buffs from this neck of the woods have also generously served up their own best food-book bets. All come with a nice glass of 'nog on the side, so enjoy...

From Whistler's latest Citizen of the Year, Joan Richoz — long-time local librarian and arts champion, and mother of another creative force in her own right, her daughter, Marika.

Marika runs her own underground restaurant out of her house in Vancouver, The Birds Nest, and it's her we have to thank for this book suggestion, since she recommended it to her mom: The Flavour Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs by Karen Page and Andrew Domenburg.

This is not a cookbook per se, notes Joan, as it lists of thousands of ingredients, which are organized alphabetically and cross-referenced. Think of it more as an amazing resource (one eight years in the making) for the seasoned chef looking to try — or avoid — new flavour combinations. For instance, The Flavour Bible recommends that pomegranate seeds go best with salads, especially cucumber, fruit and green salads, as well as cardamom, chicken, cinnamon, ginger, grapefruit, and more. Mix it up, dig in, have fun — now that's my kind of template.

Then from Whistler's best-read columnist, Pique's G. D. Maxwell, we have Irma Rombauer's Joy of Cooking.

"I know it's prosaic and, truth be told, it isn't my go-to book for recipes by a long shot, but I learned more about the science and art of cooking from Joy than any other cookbook I've ever read," he says. "From setting up a kitchen to proper technique for cooking just about anything, Joy can't be beat. Anyone who wants to learn how to cook would have to search pretty far to find a better text."