Artful Eater: A Gourmet Investigates the Ingredients of Great Food

Overview

What makes good food good? When Edward Behr sets out to answer that question, his quest leads from the seemingly prosaic properties of salt and pepper to the differences among vanilla of different origins: Bourbon, Mexican, Tahitian. Plenty is written about food all the time, but only a little of that contributes to a fuller appreciation for and understanding of basic ingredients. Behr does that along with providing mouthwatering descriptions of flavors, textures, and aromas.
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Overview

What makes good food good? When Edward Behr sets out to answer that question, his quest leads from the seemingly prosaic properties of salt and pepper to the differences among vanilla of different origins: Bourbon, Mexican, Tahitian. Plenty is written about food all the time, but only a little of that contributes to a fuller appreciation for and understanding of basic ingredients. Behr does that along with providing mouthwatering descriptions of flavors, textures, and aromas.
In The Artful Eater, with intellectual curiosity and physical pleasure, Behr unveils the complexities of bean, roasting, and brewing that make a perfect cup of coffee. He investigates why some cream has much more dairy flavor than others, why gray salt tastes more intense than white, why some Southern country ham is on the same level as great Italian prosciutto. Behr investigates eggs, walnuts, wild and tame sorrel, Atlantic salmon, roast beef, and apples, among other foods.
He enriches our enjoyment of eating by tracing the natural origins and cultural history of these foods. By consulting mustard seed brokers in Saskatchewan, mussels growers in Maine, ham curers in Kentucky, a spice merchant in Baltimore, and a walnut researcher in Bordeaux, Behr discovers truths about quality that are all but unknown.
The Artful Eater contains a good measure of practical information--there are recipes and advice on the correct use and preparation of food. But at its heart the book is an appreciation of individual ingredients, the excellent raw materials on which all great food depends.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is food writing with nothing showy or manufactured about it--just thoughtful, graceful, self-effacing workmanship."

--Anne Mendelson, The Los Angeles Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780974784106
  • Publisher: Art of Eating, The
  • Publication date: 8/1/2004
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Behr abandoned carpentry in 1986 to write about food. He is the editor of the highly respected and influential quarterly The Art of Eating.
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Read an Excerpt

The Goodness of Salt

It's sad that the unclouded enjoyment of salt is a thing of the past. Salt is winning when a few grains of it are tasted in a tiny pinch, although that hardly begins to address the health campaign against this nutrient. Salt does raise blood pressure in the seventh or tenth of the population whose blood pressure is salt-sensitive. However, there is no evidence that people with normal blood pressure who avoid salt are reducing the chance of a future problem. The whole truth about salt is only beginning to be widely understood. Bureaucrats who issue alarmist guidelines see not individuals but an ill-informed mass of least common denominators, to be treated all alike. Ironically, until recently salt has been a metaphor for value, preservation, and permanence. Only during the 1980s did partial new knowledge turn the old symbol on its head. Now hardly anyone praises salt.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition/XI
Preface to the First Edition/XVII
1 The Goodness of Salt 1
2 A Ripe, Flavorful Tomato 7
3 Labiatae: Some Herbs of the Mint Family 19
4 A Mussel Primer 25
5 Sorrel, Wild and Tame 33
6 The Atlantic Salmon 39
7 Black Pepper 61
8 An Aged Country Ham 75
9 Bay Leaves 93
10 The Sweet Orange Carrot 99
11 On English and French Mustards 113
12 Roast Beef 129
13 Eggs 141
14 A Multiplicity of Apples 157
15 Elegy for the Taste of Cream 179
16 Vanilla: Bourbon, Mexican, and Tahitian 199
17 English Walnuts 213
18 A Cup of Coffee 221
Recipes 249
Sources of Supply 261
Bibliography 279
Index 287
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