Like Behr’s celebrated magazine, The Art of Eating, 50 Foods presents simple, practical information about buying, using, preparing, and enjoying. Behr focuses on aroma, appearance, flavor, and texture to determine what “the best” means for each food. He tells you how to select top quality—signs of freshness and ripeness, best season, top varieties, proper aging. If the way to prepare, serve, or eat something is little known, then he explains it (how to open an oyster, why the best way to cook green beans is boiling, how to clean a whole salted anchovy, when to eat and when to discard the rind of a cheese). Behr also names the most complementary foods and flavors for each of these fifty marvelous foods and the wines that go with them.
The fifty selections provide a broad sensory range for the modern gourmet. Most of the foods are raw materials, but some have been fermented or otherwise transformed—into bread, ham, cheese. Six of the fifty are cheeses. As Behr explains, cheese is probably the best food, as wine is the best drink. Behr argues that food tastes more delicious when it is closer to nature. Skilled low technology is almost always superior to high technology. But with scientific insight, the old methods can be refined to achieve more consistent high quality.
We can’t always have the best, but with the information in this book we can eat better every day. Knowing good food is part of a complete understanding of the world—part of a full enjoyment of nature, a full experience of the senses, a full life.
For the connoisseur at any level, 50 Foods is a beautifully written guide to deliciousness, with color illustrations by Mikel Jaso throughout.
“In putting together 50 Foods, Mr. Behr has made use of his decades of interviewing farmers and wine producers and his travels in Europe and America. He has strong tastes and strong opinions, and his smart and evocative descriptions make for good reading. Stop at any entry, and he’ll draw you in…it will be useful to both the novice and the conoisseur.”
Los Angeles Times:
The Minneapolis Star Tribune:
“For the reader who loves to burrow into a food book with as much enthusiasm as with a novel…It’s a delightful book with beautiful design and clever illustrations from Mikel Jaso that will make you smile (at least I did).”
The Daily Beast:
“One ingredient at a time, Edward Behr will change the way you eat for the better….Behr is after something more fundamental and elusive. He is after good taste. He is after questions that have animated humans since we could eat—why things taste good; what tastes best together; why we eat certain things at certain times, and so on. That is why, unlike the dozen or so brilliant, useful, and enticing cookbooks published this year (see Heston Blumenthal, Fergus Henderson, Alice Waters, Le Pigeon, etc.), Behr’s book deserves your attention. In elegant, clear, and enthusiastic prose, he’s gives us the building blocks to think about food, to move beyond the recipes and understand why things taste good.”
“Each [entry] has soomething on buying and storing you can learn from, and an observation you might never have thought of but will make you nod in agreement.”
The Austin Chronice:
“[Behr has] a quiet voice and unfussy style — spare but rich, erudite yet straightforward. This is a book to dip into, to surprise and educate yourself. It engages both the brain and the palate, and you’ll be newly inspired to enjoy and appreciate your food because of it.”
“A delicious compendium of food facts and practical advice showcasing 50 foods that everyday cooks, gardeners, foodies and the modern gourmet should include in their culinary repertoire…A treasure trove of culinary history, sound advice and easy enlightenment—though consuming the narrative in one sitting is not advised; try spreading the enjoyment by dipping in often for tasty bites.”
“In his elegantly composed, alphabetically organized primer on the most tasty ingredients in good cooking, Behr, the founder of the Art of Eating magazine, shares useful ways of growing, choosing and pairing foods with other foods and, especially wines….The book is certainly a welcome resource for the home chef.”
David Chang, New York Times bestselling author of Momofuku and chef/founder of Momofuku:
“Ed Behr is one of the great food writers, and this book may be his best work. Any book that increases culinary knowledge is must-have in my opinion… 50 Foods is a book that every chef and home cook should have.”
Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, and author of What to Eat:
“Ed Behr’s 50 Foods extols the pleasures of his favorites from anchovies to walnuts, with plenty of handy advice about how to tell the difference between a great pear or cheese and one that’s not so great, and what wines make good foods taste even better. He knows the ins and outs of delicious food, and you will too after reading this book.”
Dan Barber, Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns:
“50 Foods may take the shape of a culinary encyclopedia, but it is never encyclopedic in its approach. Instead, Edward Behr plays curator, selecting the best ingredients as his subjects (crab, blue; oysters, raw) and crafting descriptions at once evocative, educational, and eminently practical. You’ll learn about the history of the baguette, but also (more importantly) how to predict its quality at the bakery. You’ll brush up on the anatomy of an artichoke, then salivate over descriptions of them prepared alla giudia. It is, as Behr puts it, ‘a guide to deliciousness’—a promise that he manages to deliver on, artfully.”
Danny Meyer, New York Times
bestselling author of Setting the Table:
“What a compelling and original gift Ed Behr has given food amateurs of every stripe with his brilliant canon, 50 Foods. The topics themselves are so thoughtfully curated, and the entries are authoritative, opinionated, and eminently useful whether one is a cook, eater, wine lover, or just wants to know and appreciate more than you ever did about 50 important foods.”
René Redzepi, chef and co-owner of Noma, voted San Pellegrino Best Restaurant in the World, 2010, 2011, 2012:
“Smashing! This compelling book tells the story of 50 iconic foodstuffs, taking you around the world in search of deliciousness. To me, that’s what’s especially captivating here. Deliciousness is one of the things that makes life fun and this book is full of just that.”
bestselling author, founder and Executive Chef, Chez Panisse:
“Ed Behr has a unique and holistic gastronomic vision, beautifully reflected in his examination of these 50 diverse foods that form the building blocks of taste. This fascinating, eminently readable book is a beautiful resource for curious cooks and people who want to know where their food comes from.”
Harold McGee, New York Times bestselling author of the Keys to Good Cooking:
“Ever since I saw the first issue of his Art of Eating in 1986, I’ve admired Ed Behr for his scrupulous research and forthright judgments about food and drink. I’m always learning something new from him, even about the most familiar things, and especially when I disagree with him. This book is the fruit of Ed’s decades-long pursuit of the best edibles that nature and western tradition have to offer. 50 Foods is his summa of the varieties of delicious experience, packed with useful information, a wonderfully concise source of both advice and provocation. If you know The Art of Eating you’ll welcome this brisk tour; if you don’t, 50 Foods will introduce you to one of the best guides a food lover could have.”