Where to begin? One manageable starting point could be the just-released "Snacks" by self-proclaimed "food explorer" Marcy Smothers (HarperOne, $19.99, 293 pages). It's one of cookbookdom's most entertaining and user-friendly new titles, with a foreword by celebrity chef-restaurateur Guy "Johnny Garlic's" Fieri, Smothers' longtime pal.
"Snacks" is a mini-feast of food lore, tips and trivia, surprising factoids and original recipes with chapters organized by "aisles," modeled after what a shopper will find along each aisle of a supermarket. For instance, Smothers begins with Produce, moves to Bread, then Cheese, then Frozen Food and so on - 15 aisles altogether.
Randomly flipping through the book, we found:
- The fresher the vegetables, the quicker they will cook (it's a moisture thing).
- What do the colored plastic tags on commercially baked breads signify? Answer: the day of the week they were baked (blue for Monday, green for Tuesday and so on).
- Tomato sauce doesn't have to simmer all day to be good; 20 minutes will do.
- There's no nutritional difference between white eggs and brown eggs.
Among the 50 recipes, consider prime rib sauce, crab Rangoon, fried rice and pork tacos with watermelon salsa.
As Fieri puts it: "When Marcy talks about food, I listen."