Title: The Spice Companion: A Guide To The World of Spices
Author: Lior Lev Sercarz, with: Jaime Gottlieb
Design: Christine Fischer
Photographs: Thomas Schauer
Illustrations: Nadine Bernard Westcott
Publisher: Clarkson Potter/Publishers
Along with my collection of cooking and baking books I have reference books on fruits, vegetables, salts, sugars, and spices. One of newest books Recently I acquired The Spice Companion. I love this book and agree with Sercarz when he writes, “I believe cooking is based on three things: ingredients, seasoning, and technique. When I say “seasonings” I mean spices.” Spices bring out incredible layers and flavors of a dish. While true it is difficult to sometimes know what spice will work with an ingredient, Sercarz doesn’t want you to be intimidated when looking for that particular flavor profile. He wants you to go for it, be inspired. It feels a bit daunting but his book is a great assist.
Before he gets into the spice itself he devotes several helpful pages on how to…blend spices, sanitize spices, grind spices, roast spices, buy spices, source spices, dry spices at home, as well as the pros and cons of different containers used in storing spices. All important information when you start down the spice road.
Then, in alphabetical order he breaks down the information about each spice. But first, before we get into his explanations, let me say that the illustrations in this book are beautifully detailed and the photography brings realism to a leaf or the skin of a pepper or the color of the inside of a root. Intermingled between the pages are photos of delicious looking bowls and plates of spiced goodness. Aesthetically the design of this book complements the writing.
The explanations of each spice, their family and country of origin, flavor, aroma, harvest season, and which part of the spice to use are not “over the top” technical. Sercarz, founder of La Boite, eases the pressure off the novice spice experimenter by recommending food pairings, spice pairings, recipe ideas, and quick blends to complement a dish.
I’ve ordered, cooked and baked with several of his spices: Apollonia, Yemen, Lemon Myrtle, and Smoked Cinnamon to name a few. Good quality and flavor, safe packaging, and an all around good product is worth the mail order time if you don’t live in NYC.
His website: http://laboiteny.com/