“The Flavor Bible”

Karen Page, Andrew Dornenburg

As it turns out, this book was uniquely ill-suited for an e-reader; this is a book that was written around the concept of being heavily laid out, and it didn’t make it through the process of ePUB-ification very well. Get the print edition, if you’re going to get it—while there’s something to be said, with this format, for searchability, it’s all alphabetized, so the print edition doesn’t lose much that way.

Entertainingly, the thing I kept thinking off all through the book was Pokémon type charts. (Really, go grab that link to see the example, I’m not going to be able to explain this well.) Basically, take a list, repeat it as both the rows and columns of a table, and then throughout the table mark which things go well together and to which degree. A very small example, off the top of my head:

Balsamic Vinegar Chocolate Strawberries Zucchini
Balsamic Vinegar x ★ ★
Chocolate x ★ ★
Strawberries ★ ★ ★ ★ x
Zucchini x

That’s kinda what the book is, on a much larger scale. Look up an ingredient, see a couple quick facts about it, where it falls in some broad categories, maybe a few recipe ideas and some anecdotes from chefs… and then get a list of which things it works well with.

Honestly, I think this would make a pretty good coffee-table book, and a useful reference if you’ve got one ingredient in mind and want some inspiration for what to make using it. Check it out.1

  1. This is a Bookshop affiliate link – if you buy it from here, I get a little bit of commission. It won’t hurt my feelings if you buy it elsewhere; honestly, I’d rather you check it out from your local library, or go to a local book store. I use Bookshop affiliate links instead of Amazon because they distribute a significant chunk of their profits to small, local book stores.


Cooking! Once you’ve figured out the basics (don’t put stuff in the oven and forget about it, the result is, at best, your house smelling like burnt sadness for a while), it can be pretty fun.1
A lot of the cooking you do can be “let’s see what’s in the fridge and pantry and make something out of that,” but there’s also a lot to be said for working from a recipe.2
You can, of course, go old-school, have a huge stack of cookbooks and magazine clippings and handwritten notecards. Personally, I’d call that giving in to my pack-rat tendencies a bit too much, so I prefer to go digital.3
My recipe management software of choice is Paprika; they’ve got a Mac app, too, and I believe a Windows app?4 Regardless, it’s pretty easy to put stuff into, and they’ve got some nice stuff for actually cooking with (check ingredients off as you go, automatic conversions, multiple timers, it’s almost like the app was made for this).
When you first open it up, it can be a bit empty, and their suggestion of “putter around the internet and find some stuff to get started” didn’t quite work for me. You remember that mention of cookbooks and clippings and notecards? That’s what we used to have; now it’s a much more compact setup, and I’m quite willing to share. About 900 recipes, neatly organized to help you start off your collection. Enjoy!

  1. And, as a fun bonus, it’s generally cheaper than buying ready-made food! 
  2. Especially if you’re baking; cooking is an art, baking is a science. 
  3. Same amount of stuff, but much easier to search through! And the storage is a lot cheaper, too. 
  4. You can tell how long it’s been since I used Windows, not by the fact that I don’t know, but by the way that I don’t know if they’re called apps on Windows or not. Program? Software? Who knows.