8 Booklist October 15, 2017 www.booklistreader.com
instructions for the selection, use, and care of
anchovies, capers, garlic, and other ingredients. His dislikes, by the way, are boldly
apparent. “Disclaimer: I don’t like turkey.
While we’re at it, I don’t like chicken, either.”
Borrowing and occasionally personalizing many
of the 120 recipes from
his Italian chef-friends, Beramendi ensures through
his well-presented instructions that the pasta will be
al dente, the right wines
will accompany, and the
ultimate result will more than please. Recipes represent both familiar dishes and twists
on traditional ones—caponata and risotto,
swordfish torte and pizza without a crust—
and are accompanied by good photographs
and, when necessary, a few step-by-step visuals. In between are narrative snapshots
of Beramendi’s culinary heroes and his
considerable knowledge, including a short
dissertation on farro. Autentico—and
magnifico. —Barbara Jacobs
Downtime: Deliciousness at Home.
By Nadine Levy Redzepi.
Nov. 2017. 304p. illus. Penguin/Pam Krauss, $35
This collection of recipes envisions casual
home cooking through a fine-dining lens:
each dish is prepared with high-quality ingredients, good technique, and attention
to detail. It’s a natural approach for Redzepi, who is married to chef René Redzepi of
Copenhagen’s world-famous Noma. Readers
will find the author’s take on familiar dishes,
from roast chicken to apple tart, as well as
her inspired creations, like Jerusalem-arti-choke-and-almond soup or toasted quinoa
salad with Indian-spiced onions. Recipes
also show the influence of Redzepi’s Danish heritage (sautéed chicken livers on rye
toast) and her family’s travels (Japanese
omelet with sticky rice). At times, dishes
do seem out of reach, but it’s worth a closer
read. Though instructions are detailed down
to the knifework and run long, they’re uncomplicated. Some recipes require special or
expensive ingredients, like beef demi-glace
or jarred truffles, but are for big-deal meals.
Overall, especially with Redzepi’s generous
and unpretentious voice, the book aims for
an everyday elegance geared to a conscientious home cook. —Alison Neumer Lara
Kitchen Creativity: Unlocking
Culinary Genius—With Wisdom,
Inspiration, and Ideas from the World’s
Most Creative Chefs.
By Karen Page.
Oct. 2017. 464p. Little, Brown, $40 (9780316267809).
Some cooks, amateur and professional,
follow recipes. Others use their kitchens to
produce art. The twenty-first century is witnessing the dawn of a new era in eating.
Turning impatient with prescriptive tradi-
tion, chefs have lost faith in the relevance of
classic modes of cooking. Just as Renaissance
painters and sculptors refashioned visual art,
so contemporary chefs are expanding the
definition of what is edible. Today’s chefs
raise their own food and forage for herbs
and vegetables that did not appear in the re-
ceived culinary canon.
Page has interviewed
dozens of such vision-
ary chefs around the
world. The result is a
sort of sensory diction-
ary and guidebook
for this radically new
ing the physical sensations of eating, these
chefs concoct novel and startling experiences
of sweet, salt, sour, bitter, and savory tastes
from hitherto unexplored ingredients that
reinvigorate, even shock, their patrons’ pal-
ates. Aspiring chefs who want to participate
in this gustatory revolution will encounter
plenty here to challenge their every skill and
intuition. —Mark Knoblauch
Todd English’s Rustic Pizza: Handmade
Artisan Pies from Your Own Kitchen.
By Todd English and Heather Rodino.
Nov. 2017. 224p. St. Martin’s/Castle Point, $24.99
(9781250147677); e-book (9781250165183). 641.8.
Home pizza-making is a labor of love,
since pizza these days is so easily procured via
the supermarket freezer or a delivery person.
But no frozen or delivered pizza compares to
a fresh, crispy round of wheat crust, topped
with the finest, most flavorsome sauces, vegetables, and meats, straight from the oven.
Noted chef English elevates home-baked
pizza’s quality without excessive fussing.
For English, success depends on ingenuity and creativity to combine toppings into
novel textures and tastes. Pizza Margherita’s
simple red, white, and green palette butts
up against complex and hearty kielbasa,
sauerkraut, potato, and mustard aioli. Several Mexican-inspired pizzas use wheat crusts
instead of corn tortillas as bases for taco fillings. Hybrids appear, like a pizza inspired
by Philadelphia’s beloved cheesesteak. No
pasta in the cupboard? Top pizza crust with
tomato sauce, onion, pancetta, and cheese
for a handheld version of Italy’s amatriciana.
English should provoke and inspire many a
home baker. —Mark Knoblauch
Crafts & Hobbies
Sweet & Simple Needle Felted Animals.
By Sachiko Susa.
2017. 96p. illus. Tuttle, paper, $14.95 (9784805314548).
Susa, whose specialty is making small, cute
things, is known for her masterful needle felt
creations. The projects included here, ador-
able creatures ranging from pets to forest
fauna, all measure between about one and
three inches in either direction. The designs
were created for beginners to practice and
master the basic techniques of needle felting.
Instructions for creating each animal, starting
with the simplest (a miniature dachshund),
include close-up, actual-size photographs
from many angles, each showing a ruler for
scale. A separate image depicts each piece in
a blown-apart, diagram-style arrangement, so
it’s easy to see how the animal is assembled.
Step-by-step color photos illustrate every
stage of construction. Every finished crea-
ture is also featured in a series of charming
vignettes, showing how it could be displayed.
The tiniest projects are designed to be used as
charms and include directions for incorporat-
ing straps or rings. Novices and experienced
needle felters alike will enjoy making these ir-
resistible miniatures. —Anne Heidemann
Sports & Recreation
By Jonathan Eig.
Oct. 2017. 640p. illus. HMH, $30 (9780544435247);
e-book, $30 (9781328744975). 796.83.
“Man, it’s going to be great to be great.”
So said Cassius Clay (he had yet to become
Muhammad Ali) shortly after winning the
heavyweight championship at the Rome
Olympics in 1960. In this
first full-scale biography
of Ali since the fighter’s
death, in 2016, Eig shows
that, finally, after separating myth from reality, after
sorting out a lifetime of
contradictions, and after
detailing the Champ’s too-long goodbye from
the ring, it really was great being great for the
man who called himself “the Greatest.”
Eig’s exhaustively researched account is the
first unauthorized biography of Ali, but it joins
an already sagging shelf of writing on the fighter who galvanized the antiwar movement when
he refused to join the U.S. Army at the height
of the Vietnam era. David Remnick’s King of
the World (1998) remains the best sociocul-tural analysis of how the gestalt of a nation
in the 1960s happened to land on the brown
shoulders of a cocky young man from Louisville, but Eig takes the story much further,
providing fascinating details on Ali’s childhood
and, later, on his career as a boxer, both the
well-documented triumphs but also the gradual diminution of his skills, which led to the
embarrassing last fights and, eventually, to the
brain damage and Parkinson’s that defined Ali’s
later years. (Eig even provides a running count
of all the punches Ali took in his career, a toll
that increased exponentially toward the end.)
And yet, after his unsparing recounting of Ali’s
bad decisions and moments of cruelty to loved
ones and opponents, Eig finds enduring humanity in Ali’s lighting of the Olympic torch
shortly before his death and in his many acts
of spontaneous kindness, noting that somehow
he had “always remained warm and genuine, a
man of sincere feeling and wit.” A fine biogra-