The Ten Best Books About Food of 2021 | Arts & Culture – Smithsonian
Learn about Gullah Geechee staples, incredible festivals around the world and the future of food in our top picks of the year.
Illustration by Valerie Ruland-Schwartz
In this year of constant flux, food has been a wonderful comfort. The ability to come together once again with our extended friends and families, and share a meal across the table, is something we’ve undoubtedly been missing. It’s also a wonderful reminder of how food helps to ease tensions and unite us. Our 10 top books about food of 2021—a range of debut author cookbooks, explorations into cultural and culinary heritage, memoirs, and more—reflect this reunion of sorts. From the dishes of Central and West African descendants to a romp through some of the planet’s oddist culinary festivals and most unusual eats, get ready to dig in.
New Native Kitchen: Celebrating Modern Recipes of the American Indian
James Bitsoie is the former executive chef at Mitsitam Native Foods Café at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, as well as a member of the Navajo Nation. In his debut cookbook, Bitsoie—along with James Beard Award–winning author James O. Fraioli—presents a wide sampling of the flavors and culinary history of the nearly 600 American Indian tribes in the U.S., with 100 contemporary interpretations of Indigenous recipes such as cherrystone clam soup and rabbit stew with corn dumplings. Bitsoie details each recipe’s distinct tribal heritage, and even includes a glossary of hyperlocal foods found on Native lands: things like acorn meal, agave nectar and cedar berries. The book also points readers toward the Indigenous vendors who sell them. “As a Navajo,” writes Bitsoie, “it is imperative that I respect the myriad ingredients cultivated by Indigenous stewards of the land, air, and water in what we now call the United States.”
Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide
Ever wondered what it’s like to sip beer crafted from the fog of Chile’s Atacama Desert, or how to attend Panama’s illustrious Festival of the Cheese Curl? Then this is the book for you. “An ambitious, exciting, and zany anthology of heritage foodways,” writes Dan Barber, chef and author of The Third Plate, and he couldn’t be more spot-on. In fact, in this 448-page compilation, Atlas Obscura co-founder Dylan Thuras and co-author (and AO contributor) Cecily Wong pull together some of the most unique, interesting and incredible festivals, food and drink, and culinary obscurities from around the globe, transporting the reader into parts unknown—both edible and otherwise.
The book includes more than 500 entries, …….