Cookbook review: Edible, A Celebration of Local Foods, with a recipe

Many people tell my husband, cookbook author Giuliano Hazan, that they read his cookbooks to get a “taste of Italy”.  This book is an armchair traveler's nirvana, written by people who actually live in the area of which they write, celebrating local foods.  It’s regional sections begin with “people, places and things”,  a space devoted to people, trivia, farms, restaurants and food related festivals that are not in the more traditional guidebooks.


The recipes of the book are organized by season.  My children and I decided to make the kohlrabi recipe -- we had seen the vegetable at the market but were unfamiliar with it.  This gave us an opportunity to try a new food, in the form of a recipe that was handed down by the immigrants who originally brought it to the Midwest.


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Kohlrabi with Bacon


From Edible Iowa River Valley, in Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


1 medium onion, finely chopped


4 kohlrabi bulbs (about 2 and 1/2 pounds), outer rind removed, 1/2 inch dice


2 cloves garlic, finely chopped


1/2 cup chicken broth


1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled


1/4 cup sour cream.


In a large sauté pan, heat the butter and oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes, Stir in the kohlrabi and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the chicken broth, salt, and pepper.


Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kohlrabi is tender and the broth has been absorbed, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the bacon, if using.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Serve hot, with sour cream on the side.


Lael Hazan, of the noted Italian culinary Hazan family, teaches food history at their cooking school in Verona Italy, is contributing editor of Saveur.com, writes for Sarasota Magazine and Edible Sarasota; and has a bi-monthly radio show on WSLR, 96.5FM — Focus on Fabulous Food.

America is going through a food renaissance.  We want to know the source of our food and the way it is made.  It isn’t good enough that it just “looks” pretty; it needs to have flavor and preferably a story behind it.   With perfect timing, Tracy Ryder and Carole Topalian brought out the first of the Edible Community magazines, Edible Ojai, in 2002.

They created a beautiful periodical about the food of their surrounding community and the people who produced it.  Soon they expanded to 65 areas, including our own Edible Sarasota (for which I write), with plans for the addition of 10 more magazines this year.  In addition, they’ve created their first book, Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods.

is a guidebook to the food of America.  Richly photographed and beautifully written, it is much more than the sum of the recipes.  This is a book that will guide you through regional flavors: an understanding of the complexities of being the last farmer in the Boston metro region; what it takes to “sprout healthy kids” through a school garden movement in Austin Texas; and the experience of catching wild salmon off Lummi Island in Washington state.

The concept of “reading” a cookbook is not new.  

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