Just because I can, I thought I'd share with you my favorite books this year. I believe firmly that there should be no budget for books or music. You should buy as much as you like with reckless abandon and your life will be richer for it. Apparently there's a slowdown in the economy and my little theory doesn't hold water right now, so shopping should be done with a little more care than usual.
Anyway, here are some of my favorites and maybe they'll help you with some personal budget problems or gift-giving:
The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes . Yes, it was written by my friends Connie and Sarah but I still think it's a beautiful book and worth your time. Two of the recipes are mine so I guess I can't really be impartial. Just take a look. I'm sure you will be charmed.
Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy by Diana Kennedy. Every region of Mexico deserves a book like this. It's huge and beautiful and oddly moving. It's clear, without a lot of words, that DK loves this place. I have the Spanish-language version and it's virtually the same.
Tartine Bread. I have only a casual interest in breadmaking and yet this book belongs on my Desert Island List of books. If you're looking for quickbreads or a bread for every occasion, you'll be disappointed. If you want to read a fascinating account of how to make one kind of delicious bread, and really learn a craft, this is your book. It's not for everybody. But it's for me!
India: The Cookbook is a big fat volume that seems like it will be the last word on Indian food for the casual Indian food fan. Obsessives will want to dig deeper but for me this seems like a lot fun. Published by Phaidon, who also published the really worthless Silver Spoon book on Italian cooking, I wish there was more writing to be the recipes into perspective.
Fiesta at Rick's . This is a great book that if nothing else, will inspire you to call up some pals for a dinner party. There are lots of good recipes and great tips on serving crowds. I wish the music selections were all Mexican instead of a Latin potpourri and I personaly would prefer a nice shot of tequila with a cold beer to what seems an abundance of silly cocktail recipes but there's so much good, substance to balance out these minor quibbles that I feel a little picky mentioning them. Just a little.