Cookbooks for isolates | Food & Drink Feature | Chicago Reader

Cookbooks for isolates 

Lose yourself in two more local food books, about barbecue and ramen

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For the Books Issue out now, I wrote about two cookbooks inextricably tied to the community events that inspired them, the Hideout’s Soup & Bread series, and weddings—specifically rust-belt weddings with magnificent potluck cookie spreads. These books are just as much about the cultures that keep them alive as the recipes therein.

Two other new local “books” also dropped recently, both very different from the other two. Last month Meathead,* the barbecue impresario behind, launched his second e-book: Amazing Ribs Made Easy, Everything You Need to Know About America’s Favorite Food. Unlike those community oriented cookbooks, this one is very process-oriented and fact-packed, full of all the food science you need to absorb, like woodsmoke on a proper rack of ribs. There are recipes, of course, but it’s all about the fundamentals of ribbing. It's $3.99.

Speaking of soup, just this week Mike and Scott J. Satinover dropped The Ramen_Lord Book of Ramen as an open-source Google Doc, free for all. Ramen_Lord is the former’s tongue-in-cheek handle on Reddit, where he’s become a vaunted ramen nerd over the years. In real life his ramen pop-ups sell out immediately (I still haven’t made it to one). Satinover, along with his PhD brother, dive down to the ocean floor and work their way up laying out the fundamentals of noodles, soup, tare, toppings, aroma oil, and composition. There are recipes here too, but this is practically a scientific paper.

You might be missing the human elements of a cookie table or a soup swap, but you can lose yourself cooking with these two books.

Maybe by now you’ve already finished Leor’s book. So if you’re in need of more sweet, sweet longform, on August 6 the Reader is dropping the second volume in its Best of collection, this one by a certain food writer who loves you and wants you to know that not everything is about food.

But still, you can’t possibly have cooked all the way through the Reader’s community cookbook by now. You know what would go over huge with your pod right now, now that basil is trying to take over the planet? Giuseppe Tentori’s Basil Pesto with Gnocchi. Page 42.

*I used to know him as Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn," and that's what a previously published version of this post reflected. But things have changed: "I am Meathead," Meathead says. "Like Madonna to Lady Gaga. It is my brand."  v

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