Every year the Editors of Food and Wine assess 200 new cookbooks in their Test Kitchen to determine the Best Of The Best Cookbook Recipes (Time, Inc., $29.95). This latest exclusive group of 25 acclaimed chefs and their recipes represents a wide range of flavors and ethnicities; there are Jewish-Latin offerings from Miami chef Michelle Bernstein and retro dishes from Sheila and Marilynn Brass, along with the outstanding cuisine of such talented chefs as Maria Batali, Joel Robuchon, Joyce Goldstein, Charlie Trotter, and Giada De Laurentiis.
First published in 1990, the popular kitchen reference, The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion (Barron’s $29.99), by Sharon and Ron Herbst, has been updated to reflect the global ingredients that have entered our cuisine in the last decades. I could easily find the thick and sweet Indonesian soy sauce I was looking for (kecap) as well as the popular Southeast Asian seafood sauce (sri racha) in the glossary of sauces and stocks. With apple pies on deck for the holidays, I at last have a three-page summary of the differences between all those apples at Whole Foods; ditto, the olive oils and the cheeses. There’s a potful of information here for all aspiring kitchen Quiz Kids.
Madame de Staël was said to possess such personal charms that she could lure any suitor into her den. One of her earliest lovers after her unhappy, arranged marriage to a Swedish diplomat was Tallyrand. From then on, Mme. de Staël amassed a large circle of lovers, many introduced to her by previous lovers, and two of whom fathered her children. There were also many swains in her personal entourage at the same time. But despite her romantic conquests, Mme. de Staël's real interests were in French literary and political life. Her salon, the most brilliant in Paris, was attended by the finest minds, while in darker venues, her ceaseless political machinations earned the anger and enmity of Napoleon, who eventually exiled her. In exile, she continued to hold her salons and to write both fiction and essays. Her life was so full, her character so forceful, and her literary goals so passionate, that it is easy to understand why Francine du Plessix Gray was attracted to her. I think the author must have possessed many of the same female charms as Madame de Staël, because she was courted by George Plimpton; and the Paris Review's first managing editor was said to be rendered paralyzed with love for her.