It's 1:30 in the morning and, regardless of what substance I may or may not be on, my stomach is yelling at me to eat. I scour my kitchen but finding nothing pre-made, stare at some beets, hoping they will miraculously become a meal.
This is about the time when I consult the good book. It may be the best food-related book ever. It is The Flavor Bible, and here's what a few reviewers have said about it: "One of the best cookbooks I've ever encountered." "An extraordinary book. I recently added The Flavor Bible to my cookbook collection, which numbers more than 1,000 volumes...It has immediately become one of my favorites (and definitely my #1 favorite in English)."
That and the fact that authors Andrew Dornenberg and Karen Page just took home a James Beard Award for The Flavor Bible really cement its status as an essential book. It's like the Rosetta Stone, except it's been left by the world's great chefs for cooks who know the basics.
Essentially, The Flavor Bible is a giant book of lists. Sure, the beginning has some useful information about plate and flavor composition, but that's in no way the meat of the book. The meat here is in the lists: hundreds of ingredients, and what goes with them. That's it. But it's enough to focus your mind and help foster mass amounts of creativity.
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I stumble over to the book and on page 77, I begin to read down the list of things that go with beets. Apples, arugula, avocado, basil, beef...on and on and on (over 90 things total for beets). I come upon horseradish, and remember I have some in my fridge. I then flip to the horseradish page and see that chives (which I also have) go with it, so I have my foundation.
If I was working in a restaurant, I could make a roasted beet napoleon with the horseradish and chive oil and more, but tonight, drunk in my kitchen, I find solace in simplicity.
Some beets, some horseradish and some chives: Seems easy enough, but I probably would've found myself eating butter with a spoon if it weren't t for a little guidance from the holiest of food books.
I'm just spreading the word.