A great cookbook is a beloved thing.
Whatever the culinary theme, however beautiful its photos are, a cookbook comes down to the recipes. Good recipes. Ones that consistently render a delicious dish, don’t require too many hard-to-find ingredients, and demand passionate execution. Mix a few anecdotal forwards in too and you’ve got yourself a kitchen staple.
Food 52’s tournament pits sixteen of the year’s best cookbooks against each other in NCAA-style brackets. Heavyweights in the food and journalism communities choose which ones move on to the next round. The contenders are varied and impressive, but the winner was obvious to me.
Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi boils over with the sorts of good recipes I enjoy. It’s become a kitchen staple, the book I reach for time and again. It’s stained, and annotated and loved, despite only finding a home in mine a month ago.
I got this cookbook after one of my favorite food blogs, Serious Eats, featured a handful of recipes from it. Each one they highlighted, from stuffed eggplant with lamb and pine nuts to roasted butternut squash and red onion with za’atar and tahini, looked like something I wanted to make, counting down the hours until I could dig into the leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.
Still, I wanted to give the other cookbooks a chance. I did my research and dutifully filled out the bracket to see if I was compelled to let another book triumph over my new personal favorite. In the end, the decision was easy.
Jerusalem has unequivocally won me over, and I predict it will win Food 52’s Piglet competition. Print out your own bracket, and follow the action.
Katie Quinn is a video journalist at NowThis News and our food reporter at-large. For more goodness, you can follow her on Twitter @qkatie, subscribe to her posts on FB, or check out her photos on Instagram!