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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
The importance of the spice trade to the development of world culture is a topic most of us haven't thought about since high school history class; today it's difficult to imagine that something as commonplace as what fills the shakers on our tables was once as valuable as gold. But after leafing through Michele Anna Jordan's lovely new book, Salt & Pepper , you'll have a tougher time taking these two ubiquitous ingredients for granted. Cookbook author Jordan (Polenta, California Home Cooking) takes the reader on a fascinating tour of the history, lore, and culinary uses of these two ancient seasonings and then offers 135 recipes that show them off to advantage. In some of her dishes, such as Fresh Soybeans and Sea Salt (a treat Japanese-restaurant goers will recognize), salt is the essential flavoring; in others, it's used as a cooking or preserving method, such as in Lamb Loin Baked in a Salt Crust or Salmon Gravlax. Pepper takes the spotlight in dishes like Roasted Strawberries with Black Pepper; Pepper-Crusted Pizza with Porcini, Fontina, and Sage; and Avocado, Grapefruit, and Chicken Salad with Black Pepper Dressing. Jordan also includes a wonderful section on spice mixtures and condiments, containing treats like Preserved Lemons; Raisin, Onion, and Green Peppercorn Chutney; and Chipotle Salt. An appendix of tasting notes and recommendations, a glossary, and a listing of mail-order resources also add to the book's usefulness. Salt & Pepper is the kind of book that curious cooks will shuffle from the bedroom, where it makes for enjoyable bedtime reading, tothekitchen, where it will inspire culinary adventures. Either way, Salt & Pepper is a treat.