It would be wonderful if we all could walk into the kitchens of the world's talented chefs and learn everything they know. Since we can't, the next best thing is to read their instructions forever captured in the form of the written word. Cookbooks can be very helpful for the home cook and the professional chef alike. However, if you want to be able to open your refrigerator and whip up a five star-worthy dish at home, you should understand how each and every ingredient works. Here's a list of five books for foodies and home cooks that will add depth and understanding to your time spent in the kitchen and with food in general. That said, let's read!
The Food Lovers Companion, Ron and Sharon Tyler Herbst
This book is forever proving its worth to me. I've seen it in countless kitchens and in the hands of numerous chefs. It's an excellent resource for shedding light on all of the scary, ominous or new ingredients you've rarely or never used. Unsure of what to look for when trying out a new salsify recipe? Refer to Companion to get all the information you need to pick out the best salsify your local market has to offer. From foods to drinks to methods and procedures, this book has something to say about everything in the way of gastronomy.
Culinary Artistry, Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page
A useful tool in menu planning, Artistry arms you with the basics of flavor profiling (which is totally legal, I swear) as well as a primer in cooking seasonally. Blurbs from world-renowned chefs add professional insight into what makes up the core of the cooking world. If you want your four-course dinner party to flow in flavor, reference this book. It leaves a map of the food world at your fingertips.
The Escoffier Cookbook, Auguste Escoffier
While this book is formatted in a style that is more formal than your run-of-the-mill cookbooks, it's a great guide to preparing haute cuisine at home. Besides, Escoffier was the father of French cuisine, so he surely knew what he was talking about. Props to Julia Child, but if I'm going to make Boeuf Bourguignon, I'm using Escoffier's method to do so. This book is invaluable if you're confident in yourself and in your kitchen skills.
Momofuku, David Chang and Peter Meehan
My preferred cookbook as of late, David Chang's divulges the secrets to his amazingly successful restaurants in this book. Another bonus is that Chang explains methods of "ghetto" sous-vide that make the glimmer and allure of molecular gastronomy accessible to anyone willing to put forth the effort.
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, Harold McGee
Harold McGee explores food and the kitchen from the perspective of a scientist. Having studied science at Yale he is able to offer a completely different take on the kitchen. Exploring all of the ins and the outs of the hows and the whys, McGee opens doors for new ways of preparing food, giving readers a thorough guide to how our favorite foods would react to hanging out in a laboratory all day. Add in tips that home cooks would find highly useful, and this book becomes truly precious for those willing to dig in.