Eat Their Words: A Round-Up of 2013 Food Titles
By Terese Allen | Photos By courtesy of respective publishers 2
The ground may be frozen, but that doesn’t mean the harvest is over. Enjoy a different kind of crop this winter by digging into the following cookbooks, essay collections and culinary travel guides, all published in 2013 and all featuring regional foodways.
Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie: Midwestern Writers on Food
by Peggy Wolff (University of Nebraska Press)
Thirty essays and fourteen recipes delve into Midwestern foodways, both past and present. We hear from the book’s editor Peggy Wolff on the Door County fish boil, from Jacquelyn Mitchard on sweet corn and from Molly O’Neill on the Midwest as the center of the next food revolution. There are pieces on Cincinnati chili, Chicago Italian beef, rhubarb kuchen and meatloaf (of course)—foods that Heartlanders identify with and argue over, wrapped in stories that will make you laugh, learn and amaze.
Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience
by Ron Faiola (Midway)
The Supper Club Book: A Celebration of a Midwest Tradition
by Dave Hoekstra (Chicago Review Press)
Not one but two hardcovers about supper clubs came out this year. Ron Faiola’s photos showcase interiors, proprietors and classic dishes and—like his go-with essays—are frank and friendly snapshots of beloved destinations. Hoekstra’s lens is wider; he covers the upper Midwest, emphasizing Wisconsin (the epicenter of supper clubs), and he uses oral history and evocative photography to reveal the character and meaning of supper clubs as place. “A contained little universe,” he so aptly calls them, “The fork in the road between yesterday and today.”
The Market Kitchen: A Chapbook of Recipes and Thrift for the Home Kitchen
by Odessa Piper
The founder and former owner of Madison’s L’Etoile restaurant is now also author of a small, lovely collection of essays and recipes that express the benefits of farm-fresh ingredients—their flavor, healthfulness and sense of flair, but also their versatility. “As our familiarity with true ripeness grows, so does our creativity with its possibilities,” Piper writes. Her recipes read like conversation, not command; she gives you a map with alternative routes, and recommends a destination of your own choosing. Her words are wrapped in simple, charismatic block print illustrations by photographer-designer Eric Lewandowski.
Savoring the Harvest: The Sights and Flavors of the Farmers Market
by Irene Cash and Victor Marsh (Cuisine Capers Press)
In another cookbook that spotlights fresh market fare, Victor Marsh’s vivid close-ups of Dane County Farmers’ Market produce all but pop off the page, while Irene Cash’s seasonal recipes have an “I can do that!” simplicity and appeal. The photography and cooking duo founded Madison’s first online dining guide, MadisonDining.com.
Eat Smart in Germany
by Mary Bergin (Ginkgo Press)
"Hearty people and hearty fare" is one phrase Madison journalist Mary Bergin uses to describe German culture in this very readable, very usable food guide for travelers. Yet "hearty" herein refers not just to gastronomic gusto but to a generosity of spirit. German food is much more than sausage, kraut and beer, says Bergin—it’s near-endless variations of them, plus it's pastries, dumplings, pickles, fowl, venison, wines, condiments, and on and on. Whether you're headed overseas or just interested in learning more about a major influence on the food traditions of our own state, this is a one-stop shop for getting a genuine taste of Deutschland.
Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories and Recipes from the Upper Midwest
by Heid E. Erdrich (Minnesota Historical Society Press)
Poet Heid E. Erdrich does not consider herself a cook or even a foodie, but you wouldn’t know it by the appetizing recipes and edifying tales in her salute to the native foods of the Great Lakes and Great Plains. She submits a passionate, studied and hungry eye to wild rice, morel mushrooms, squash, smoked whitefish, juneberries, maple syrup and much, much more. Her graceful collection also celebrates indigenous people via personal and community tales.
The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes
by Amy Thielen (Clarkson Potter)
Amy Thielen has a philosopher’s sensibility about both the food and the landscape of the Midwest, which, she says, “may seem ordinary to outsiders looking in, but [feel] privately epic to those who live here.” Her dishes derive from her own experience with regional bounty or are “reengineered classics.” I can’t wait to try the likes of Cracker-Crusted Panfish, Wild Plum Manhattans and Cardamom Caramel Rolls. Thiele intelligently and lovingly explores the often surprising characteristics of Midwestern food culture: its private nature and lack of easy definition; the enduring European peasant influences amid today’s new ethnic additions; the seasonality and rural sourcing; and the cadre of regional cooks who have been “directing the course of American cuisine for a long time.”