Books Worth Buying: June’s Best Food and Drink Releases

Out of all the month’s new food and drink books, these five volumes are worth hanging on to

Cookbooks can be great in any number of ways: some are so beautiful that they're culinarily or geographically transportive; some are so full of informative headnotes and sidebars that they're valuable as references; some are such definitive works on a particular cuisine, time, or place that they become artifacts of culture themselves. We get dozens of cookbooks each week at SAVEUR, and in this new series we'll be sharing our favorite of each month's new releases— books that, through one avenue of greatness or another, have earned a place on our over-stuffed shelves.


Franny's: Simple Seasonal Italian

]( Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens, and Melissa Clark
At their pizza hot spot in Brooklyn, husband-and-wife team Andrew Feinberg and Francine Stephens sing the song of simplicity. Toasted bread smeared with fresh ricotta and piled high with roasted cheery tomatoes becomes transcendent, and lines ring the block. With their new cookbook, Franny's: Simple Seasonal Italian, out this month, like Alice Waters before them (who wrote the introduction), they bring their love affair with the simple into your home kitchen; the book seems to scream, get thee to the greenmarket! So off to market I went, and came back with ramps, which I turned into a ramp compound butter that Francine and Andrew recommended I smear on toast under some crisped pancetta. I could have eaten it all night. The cookbook doesn't necessarily teach you brand new techniques or applications—much of the recipes are little more than assembling fresh ingredients. But it inspired me to get the most out of each ramp stalk. Perfectly timed for summer's bounty. _—Sophie Brickman

Available June 4 from Artisan; $35.
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The Perfect Peach: Recipes and Stories from the Masumoto Family Farm

]( David Mas Masumoto, Marcy Masumoto, and Nikiko Masumoto
Gold Dust, Sun Crest, Elegant Lady: these peach varieties are but a few of the kinds the Masumoto family grows on their farm, and lovingly describe in their new book, The Perfect Peach. The Masumoto Family Farm, an 80-acre organic peach farm located in California's lush Central Valley, serves as both source and inspiration for this volume. More than just a collection of recipes, the distinct voices of each family member are used to weave together stories of place and table. David Mas Masumoto, the head farmer whose father founded the farm a few years after his internment during World War II, provides lyrical musings alongside hands-on lessons about fruit and its propagation. His wife Marcy's instructive kitchen notes and recipes come courtesy of her years of experience on the farm, and their daughter Nikiko, a recent college graduate, adds a fresh perspective, a promise that the family legacy promises high yields for years to come. While the recipes are lovely—think classic peach cobbler, pork cooked in beer and peaches for tacos, and spiced peach pickles—for me, this book's charm lies in its stories. Filled with tales of triumph and failure, family and history, life and death, The Perfect Peach offers an unexpectedly intimate portrait of life and its simplest pleasures. _—Dawn Mobley__

Available June 11 from Ten Speed Press; $22.
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Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook

]( Alain Coumont and Jean-Pierre Gabriel
What I love about Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook is the same thing I love about the cafe itself. The Belgium-based boulangerie, with locations all over the world (including Manhattan, where I live), sells not only rustic bread, tartines, vegan soups, and the best granola ever; the bakery and its owner Alain Coumont, co-author of this beautiful tome, are selling a lifestyle. Le Pain Quotidien and its book are both all about making wholesome, delicious food convenient. There are some elaborate recipes (one chapter is devoted to baking bread), but most are spruced-up renditions of stuff we eat everyday, from salads to yogurt to pastas. Though the recipes can be followed as they are, they also make fine jumping off points for improvisation. In this spirit, I borrowed a method for cooking asparagus from a frittata recipe, which yielded juicy, well-seasoned stalks, and swapped them in for the bacon that tops a Comte souffle tartine: toast smothered in a mixture of egg, Comte and Parmesan cheeses that puffs up when baked. It was a pleasure to eat, easy to make, and I wouldn't have thought of it on my own. That's what this book's perfect for—transforming a simple meal into a special one. _—Gabriella Gershenson

Available June 11 from Mitchelle Beazley; $29.99
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A History of Food in 100 Recipes

]( William Sitwell
"Furious rages echo out of the kitchens throughout history," writes author William Sitwell, who has put his ear to the door of every imaginable kitchen to gather the material for his new book. Sitwell tackles his subject—4,000 years of cooking—in 100 spirited chapters, each devoted to a food obsessive and anchored by a recipe. His sources mine the whole human record, from hieroglyphics (bread baking in Ancient Egypt) to poems (Virgil's "roast goat") to scientific publications like the book by Denis Papin, a 17th-century inventor, advertising his "New Digester of Engine for Softening Bones"—or, in modern parlance, the pressure cooker. Papin's recipe, "Fish Experiment XIII, a concoction of fish and gooseberries, sounded good enough that I'm going to try it at home. There are plenty of contemporary recipes represented here, too, each embodying the essence or excesses of their makers or their historical moment—"A large cocktail crush for 40" (James Beard), microwaved ginger cake (Cecilia Norman). And while this history of cooking doesn't pretend to be comprehensive—in just 100 recipes, how could it be?— it's a rare and delightful thing: a historical cookbook, full of personality, where every dish gets its due. —Karen Shimizu

Available June 18 from Little, Brown, and Company; $35
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Saving the Season: A Cook's Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving

]( Kevin West
This cookbook is unlike any other on my shelf. West approaches his topic—home canning and preserving—with a reporter's attention to detail and a poet's sensibility; it's less a canning tutorial and cookbook than it is a collection of absorbing personal essays, literary excerpts, explications of culinary history, and friendly advice, all of which happens to be punctuated by appealing, easy-to-follow recipes. That's not to say the book isn't suitable as a practical guide for the canning novice; you'll learn the differences between jam, jelly, and marmalade, how acid and salt affect the pH balance of your preserves (keeping botulism at bay), and what fruits are naturally high in pectin. But you'll also read about the first time West picked wild ramps, the literary history of the Thanksgiving meal, and how to make killer blackberry molasses. The text dances on, its cadence dictated by the season, and while there are more than enough spring and summer recipes to keep you busy every weekend from now through the end of August (I, for one, can't wait to make my own Maraschino cherries), West's engaging stories will probably have you reading ahead, looking forward to homemade pumpkin butter and blood orange marmalade. —Cory Baldwin

Available June 25 from Knopf; $35
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