When we started Broken Books, we knew we would have to think really hard about what kind of product we brought in, because the industry has changed drastically in the last 10 years. One thing we discovered is that cookbooks have remained steady sellers across North America because they don’t translate well into the world of e-readers. Functionally, it’s nice to have that convenient hands-free page to look at while you’re in the kitchen, but it’s the aesthetic beauty of the cookbook—the way it’s bound, the photography—that keeps them moving off shelves. The best ones can also be read like an adventure story, inspiring us not only with recipes but with ways to view the world and learn from , and by, what we eat. Here are a few of our new favourites:
HERITAGE BY SEAN BROCK
The executive chef at Husk Restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, Sean Brock is a bit of a rockstar in Southern food. In addition to serving up ethically sourced, local ingredients (which he often grows or forages himself), Brock is also committed to preserving once widely used heirloom crops that are in decline thanks to the industrial food industry. He and his counterparts can often be found scouring abandoned farms in search of strains of apples or grains that they’ve only read about. In fact, if you went for a meal at Husk a lot of the food on your plate would have been on the brink of extinction ten years ago. The recipes in this one are great, but it’s Brock’s philosophy on food that is truly inspiring.
THE OLD-FASHIONED BY ROBERT SIMONSON
This is more of a drink book, but anyways…the Old-Fashioned is one of the oldest and simplest cocktails around. All you need to make one is whiskey, bitters, sugar, and ice, but the kinds of ingredients you mix up, and the garnishes you top them off with, are what really makes this drink. Simonson gives us over 40 variations, some tips on how to consistently make a solid Old-Fashioned, and some essays that discuss the history and politics surrounding this “King of Cocktails” through the years.
SMOKE: NEW FIREWOOD COOKING BY TIM BYRES
Using fire to prepare food is one of the most ancient things we, as humans, do. Remember burying bananas and chocolate chips wrapped in tinfoil at the edge of the blaze on Bonfire Night? Remember how good it tasted? Imagine roasting a duck with all the fixins like that. Tim Byres takes us through the whole world of cooking outdoors, from a campfire breakfast to roasting a pig. There are a ton of hints about which kinds of wood will pair best with what you’re about to eat, as well as suggestions about how to set up your fire. Wood selection is important for both flavour and temperature control, and this book will help you achieve consistent, restaurant-quality results on every trip to the cabin.
Broken Books is located on Duckworth Street, under Fixed Coffee and Baking.