The champion of uncelebrated foods including fat, offal, and bones, Jennifer McLagan turns her attention to a fascinating, underappreciated, and trending topic: bitterness.
What do coffee, IPA beer, dark chocolate, and radicchio all have in common? They're bitter. In this deep and fascinating exploration of bitter through science, culture, history, and 120 deliciously idiosyncratic recipes, award-winning author Jennifer McLagan makes a case for this misunderstood flavor. Biologically-speaking, the taste of something bitter--unlike sweet, which can indicate a nutrient-rich food, and salty, which indicates the presence of needed minerals--can signify a poison, so an appreciation for bitterness must develop with age and experience. Bitter is a known appetite stimulant and is often just the thing to add dimension and balance to a dish. While some culinary cultures, such as in Italy and parts of Asia, have an inherent appreciation for bitter flavors (think Campari and Chinese bitter melon), little attention has been given to bitterness in North America: we're much more likely to reach for salty or sweet. However, even in North America, bitter is making inroads with increased interest in cocktail bitters, craft beers, and artisanal coffee; and consumption of bitter salad greens and chocolate is growing. In the capable hands of McLagan, bitterness will emerge from the shadows of the culinary underworld and get its deserved place in the spotlight.
About Jennifer McLagan
Jennifer McLagan is a chef and food stylist and writer who has worked in Toronto, London, and Paris as well as her native Australia. Her previous books, Bones (2005) and Fat (2007) were both widely acclaimed and each won Beard and IACP awards. Jennifer is a regular contributor to Fine Cooking and Food & Drink. She has lived in Toronto for more than thirty years with her sculptor husband, Haralds Gaikis, with whom she escapes to Paris as often as possible. On both sides of the Atlantic, Jennifer maintains friendly relations with her butchers, who put aside their best fat, bones, and odd bits for her. Visit www.jennifermclagan.com.