While cookbooks typically tell the reader exactly what to cook and how to cook it, cooking reference books usually function as a guide or supply an idea that can be shaped by the cook. In The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, Karen Page‘s emphasis is on the latter, and she has successfully created an amazing culinary reference guide through careful research, a clear passion for ingredients and extensive interviews with notable chefs. TVFB’s focus is on providing successful flavor pairings, taking into consideration taste, aroma, texture and seasonal availability. From açaí to zucchini blossoms and everything in between, Page breaks them down, giving an in-depth overview of more than a thousand ingredients that provides a starting point or inspiration for both the new and seasoned cook.
Take, for example, shiitake mushrooms. They are one of my favorite ingredients based on their versatility, umami flavor and meaty texture. I always tend to think Asian or, um, bacon, when i have them on hand—and it usually stops there. But TVFB has allowed me to up my shiitake game by recommending complimentary pairings like brandy, avocado, Kaffir lime leaves, yuzu and cayenne, and cross-referencing them with thousands of other ingredients throughout its 500+ pages. For food nerds and obsessive recipe developers like me, this opens up countless opportunities for creating new dishes and rethinking old ones—exponentially expanding and enhancing the creative process.
But Page’s guide isn’t just for experienced or seasoned cooks. It’s also for new cooks who may not have any idea where to start or who may not be familiar with certain ingredients … or that some ingredients even exist. Because ingredients are expertly cross-referenced, The Vegetarian Flavor Bible can easily turn into sort of a culinary Choose Your Own Adventure, and it’s easy to get pleasantly lost flipping around while learning about how flavors and textures can potentially and successfully work together.
This hardcover guide is also packed with a history of vegetarianism and how it’s evolved since 3000 BCE through 2013; a section on how we perceive flavor, texture and aroma; and why visual, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of eating are important, as well as what all of those mean. If you are curious and hungry for more, I’m excited that Little, Brown and Company is offering a free copy of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible through this post!
The winner of this giveaway is Anne, congrats! Thanks to all who entered!
If you’d like a chance to win this gorgeous and ginormous hardcover guide, just leave a comment below that includes your favorite flavor pairing, including your email, twitter handle or some way to contact you in case you are the winner. I’m also extending this giveaway on my Facebook page for those who’d rather enter that way. Shipping is limited to the US only. I’ll combine all comments from here and Facebook to randomly chose a winner on January 26 … good luck!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Page is a graduate of Northwestern and Harvard who also earned a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell in conjunction with the T. Colin Campbell Foundation. She is a two-time James Beard Award–winning author whose books include The Flavor Bible.
The former Washington Post wine columnist is also the coauthor of What to Drink with What You Eat, which was named the IACP Cookbook of the Year and the Georges Duboeuf Wine Book of the Year and won a Gourmand World Cookbook Award, and the IACP and James Beard Book Award Finalist The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine.
She lives with her husband, author and photographer Andrew Dornenburg, in New York City.