WanderersMay 20, 2014 by Susie
Eat. Travel. Write a cookbook. It’s not a common formula in these tight-belted days, but every once in a while some intrepid spirit pulls it off. Some come by it through mixed heritage, like Tessa Kiros of Falling Cloudberries or Exotic Table‘s Aliya LeeKong, some by happenstance. But all have culinary adventures and the urge to chronicle them.
When I see these books, I feel a rush of envy and admiration. Good for you! I think, for throwing caution to the wind and pleasuring your taste buds while you may. But I never quite know what to do with these books. [For publishers, I imagine it’s a marketing conundrum, unless the author also happens to be a well-known chef like Where Flavor Was Born‘s Andreas Viestad.] They’re not quite memoirs, to read in bed – you want to read the anecdotes while you’re discovering the recipes. Yet the recipes tend to be so disunited in theme that it never occurs to you to look for them in a particular book. Sometimes, the recipes are less professionally-drafted versions of classic recipes from the country visited. Would I rather have a Tarte Tatin recipe from a weathered, gruff pastry chef with arms full of burnt-sugar scars, or a dewy-eyed romantic who’s just back from Paris? Maybe I’d rather the romantic wrote the headnote. But for the recipe, I’ll stick with Chef.
These are the thoughts that passed my mind when Kim Sunée’s A Mouthful of Stars appeared this week. Unclassifiable! I despaired, thinking of the hit-or-miss sorting rubric on which my cookbook collection (and probably yours) is based. But I couldn’t put it down. Charming, colorful, nicely designed, with somewhat-familiar-but-still-tempting recipes, an author with some chops…OK, I said. I’ll give you one more chance.
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