While my comprehensive four-volume opus on freeganism was derailed by the pandemic, it seems like it was a particularly productive period for a whole bunch of local food writers who have books coming out this fall. I’m excited about all of them.
Instantly Mediterranean: Vibrant, Satisfying Recipes for Your Instant Pot, Electric Pressure Cooker, and Air Fryer, Emily Paster (Tiller Press, September 14)
I just got a new toaster oven with an air fryer function, so I’m excited to take on this Park Ridge-based writer’s recipes for chicken shawarma, lamb and bulgur kofte, and the Israeli fried eggplant sandwich sabich. But the bulk of Paster’s fourth book is concerned with Instant Pot and pressure cooker recipes, so if you’re into the gadgetry, North African spicy fish stew, muhammara, and prosecco-poached pears are pretty fetching too.
Everyday Sadya: Enjoying the Land’s Bounty, Margaret Pak, Vinod Kalathil, and Maggie Hennessy (self-published, very soon?)
I guess I’m now a collector of the one-off Kickstarter-funded food zine collaborations between local chefs and food writer Maggie Hennessy. The third, after John Manion’s Meat Project and Honey Butter Fried Chicken’s Cassoulet, is this lovely, 12-recipe guide to creating the Keralan vegetarian banana leaf feast that is both a celebratory occasion and everyday way to make use of leftovers. Pak and Kalathil, the founders of Thattu, Chicago’s only Keralan restaurant, have the project just about funded, so it won’t be long now.
The Aromatic Wild Herbs & Spices of the Midwest, Marika Josephson (Midwesterner, end of September)
I haven’t gotten a look at this yet, but it’s going to be a handmade pocket guide from a cofounder of Scratch Brewing Company in downstate Ava, Illinois, (in the Shawnee National Forest) and the coauthor of The Homebrewer’s Almanac.
The Korean Vegan Cookbook: Reflections and Recipes from Omma’s Kitchen, Joanne Lee Molinaro (Avery, October 12)
Until now I’d never heard of Joanne Lee Molinaro, but she has half a million more Instagram followers than every writer on this list combined. Actually, the Skokie-born attorney’s main platform is TikTok, where she posts intensely personal 60-second narratives while assembling everything from gimbap to gluten-free blueberry pancakes to kimchi crunchwraps for more than two and a half million followers. This book is merely the beautifully shot and written dead-tree extension of that vast platform. As she points out, veganism is rare in Korean culture, but inventive, uncompromising recipes like dashi-braised lion’s mane mushrooms, acorn jelly with blackberry dressing, and gochuchang-spiked lasagna with avocado bechamel seem pretty tempting to this hardcore carnivore.
The Way of the Cocktail: Japanese Traditions, Techniques and Recipes, Julia Momosé and Emma Janzen (Clarkson Potter, October 12)
If you’ve ever sat in front of Julia Momosé at the bar at the late Green River, or now Kumiko (or sipped something she made at the Aviary or Oriole), you know she has one of the most effortless and fluid cocktailing styles in town. This lush, granular examination of the Japanese approach to seasonality, craftsmanship, and hospitality as it applies to the country’s deeply entrenched cocktail culture explains exactly where she’s coming from. It’s a thorough examination of history, tools, spirits, and technique with recipes broken down not just by seasons, but 24 microseasons, almost doubling as a guide to Ginza’s cocktail bars. Photography by Kevin Miyazaki makes Momosé’s drinks look like luminous jewels.
The Ultimate Chicago Pizza Guide: A History of Squares & Slices in the Windy City, Steve Dolinsky (Northwestern University Press, October 15)
The erstwhile Hungry Hound has a new nom de TV (“The Food Guy”), a new TV gig, and a new book following Pizza City, USA. It’s an update after Chicago’s pandemic-driven pizza boom; a meticulous examination of the exemplars of nine pizza styles found within the city limits. His righteous setting of the record straight when it comes to our native pies ought to be required reading before any outsider opens his gob on whatever he thinks Chicago-style pizza is. (Yeah, it’s always a dude.) Dolinsky gives himself free rein to unleash a hilarious snark not often seen on the news.
Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes, Abra Berens (Chronicle Books, October 26)
The follow-up to the former Local Foods chef’s enormously successful Ruffage: A Practical Guide to Vegetables gets the jump on Portland chef Joshua McFadden’s forthcoming opus on similar provisions. Now the head chef at Granor Farms in Three Oaks, Michigan, Berens strolls through each category with representative methods (such as boiled, fried, sprouted) with an eye toward variety and versatility over 125 recipes.
Cheese Sex Death: A Bible for the Cheese Obsessed, Erika Kubick (Abrams, October 26)
Kubick’s carnal, voluptuous writing style is perfectly evocative of the sensual pleasures of preserved milk. But there are a lot of comprehensive cheese guides out there for beginners, and her way with words, plus her significant depth of knowledge, are undercut by increasingly labored religious puns and biblical metaphors.
The Wisconsin Supper Clubs Story: An Illustrated History with Relish, Ron Faiola (Agate Midway, November 9)
This is filmmaker (and former Couch Flambeau drummer) Faiola’s third book on the subject and his deepest dive yet into the century-plus saga of Wisconsin’s enduring home of the relish tray, fish fry, prime rib, and Old Fashioned. The archival material is rich and wistful, and while you’ll never get a dry-aged steak at Ray Radigan’s again, there’s enough here to inspire spur-of-the-moment road trips up north to the Hobnob, Ishnala Supper Club, or any of the surviving sanctuaries of midwestern midcentury swank.