By J.M. Hirsch / The Associated Press
As food has morphed ever more into a pop- culture fixture, cookbooks — with their lush photos, their provocative prose, their tempting, come-hither recipes — have become the porn of the food set.
We no longer see them primarily as a source of dinner inspiration. Today, story often trumps recipes. Many of the best food books of the year don’t even have recipes, or at least none a home cook is expected to follow. Not too many years ago, that would have been comical. Today? There’s an audience for that.
Here are some local highlights, as well as other top picks for the gourmand in your life.
Ivar’s Seafood Cookbook ($25). Celebrate 75 years of the local seafood institution with this cookbook full of stories, tips and recipes.
Trophy Cupcakes & Parties! ($25). Trophy founder Jennifer Shea’s book provides cupcake recipes along with party theme and décor ideas.
Vij’s at Home: Relax, Honey ($85). The paperback release of this cookbook by Shanik restaurant chef and owner Meeru Dhalwala comes with a masala dhaba spice set, perfect for trying out the homey Indian dishes. Signed copies can be purchased at the South Lake Union restaurant.
The Mushroom Hunters ($26). Local author Langdon Cook delves into the sometimes shadowy world of commercial mushroom pickers.
Hedgebrook Cookbook ($25). Hedgebrook is a women’s literary retreat on Whidbey Island that is almost as famous for its communal kitchen as its well-known guests. Chefs Denise Barr and Julie Rosten include recipes, and alumni contribute essays.
Le Pigeon: Cooking at the Dirty Bird ($40). Step out of your comfort zone with celebrated Portland chef Gabriel Rucker’s first cookbook, which features elk, rabbit, eel and, of course, pigeon.
50 Foods: The Essentials of Good Taste ($35). Edward Behr’s richly illustrated new book instructs on how to buy, prepare and eat the 50 most important foods (note: six of the 50 are cheeses).
Smoke & Pickles ($30). Edward Lee earned his fame on Season 9 of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” but he earned his credibility for his brash, yet respectful reimagining of Southern cuisine with Asian flavors.
Mast Brothers Chocolate ($40). The Mast brothers, Rick and Michael, have written a book of delicious simplicity, filled with recipes so evocatively photographed and so clearly written, you will actually cook from it.
Reasons Mommy Drinks ($13). If foul language and parenting-by-alcohol are things likely to offend you, give this book a pass. But if you understand that a good drink can make family life more tolerable, then you will love this tiny book of cocktail recipes (and the parenting horrors that inspired them). By Lyranda Martin Evans and Fiona Stevenson.
Eat Drink Vote ($19). The politics of food and diet can be a dense slog, but Marion Nestle, one of the nation’s leading thinkers on food policy, has written a book that doesn’t just inform, it also entertains.
Sunday Market staff contributed to this story.