new books at ICC edu

Library Notes: New Books at ICC [October 2016]

The ICC library is continuously growing and evolving. In this new column, we will highlight a few favorites from our new acquisitions shelf.

Sushi Lovers alert! If you loved the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi then you are already familiar with Jiro Ono, the brilliant and delicate sushi craftsman. In Sushi Chef Sukiyabashi Jiro by Shinzo Satomi, the reader is welcomed into his kitchen. First published in Japan in 1997, it is only now available in English from translator Rei Perovic. With beautiful color photos as well as maps and diagrams, it is no stretch to call this book a sushi bible. Our own Chef Jeffery Moon loved it and called it the best sushi book he has seen. Satomi digs deeper that simple instruction during his interviews with Jiro providing an insight into his style and philosophy. This book is a must read for aspiring chefs, seafood lovers and Japanese food enthusiasts.


As the weather starts to turn, we begin craving comfort foods that will fill the house with fragrance and cure an impending cold. The recipes in Small Victories by Julia Turshen fit the bill. Julia’s philosophy is the simpler the better and to grow as a cook and fund success in the kitchen, we must celebrate the small victories – each little step along the way.  While certainly geared toward the home cook, culinary students can take away from this an open minded, expansive approach to recipes. For each included in the book, Julia provides what she calls “Spin-Offs” or variations that completely change the recipe or utilize the ingredients in a whole new way. So whether you are craving Snow-Day Udon Soup  or Chicken + Pea Skillet Pie you will learn several other recipes right along with it. Recommended for simple go-to comfort recipes or novice cooks.

Chef Jose Pizarro owns three Spanish restaurants in London, but instead of creating a book dedicated to one of them, he chose to highlight the cuisine from his favorite city, San Sebastian. The Basque Book by Jose Pizarro is a beautiful colorful celebration of the famed Spanish city and the whole Basque region. All the recipes are labeled either “Pintxos” or “At the Table” – meaning small plates or main dishes.  However, says Jose “Sometimes I just think anything goes.” Dive in for his take on classics such as tortilla and empanada as well as new favorites like Swiss chard stew or chestnut flan. An excellent pick for photography lovers, Spanish food fanatics and fine dining fans.

We have these and many more new books available for check out now in the library. Follow us on Instagram for the most current updates @intlcullibrary


Library Notes Wine

Library Notes // Wine 101

By Sara Quiroz
ICC Librarian

Visitors to the ICC Library sometimes mistakenly think it’s nothing but cookbooks. On the contrary, we have a very wide range of books and DVDs available on almost every subject in the culinary world. This of course, includes everything our Sommelier students may need throughout their course. If you’re not quite ready to commit to the full course but would like to dip your toe in the world of wine, here are a few highlights from our collection to get you started.

Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack provides a thorough overview of everything you need to know about wine, from fundamentals to styles to regions. Best of all, the content is incredibly visual. Wine Folly is full of great charts in bright colors; it’s a fun reader friendly guide without sacrificing the content. Pick this up if you are brand new and need an engaging starting point.

If you, like me, are more of a literary type, Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch is the pick for you! Lynch is a wine buyer who vividly recalls his travels through France painting colorful portraits of the producers and other assorted characters he met along the way. I participated in a wine book club and all of the Somm alumnus agreed it would have been incredibly helpful to read during the French portion of the class. How rare, to find a engaging and laugh out loud funny memoir that is also informative and educational. This is for the avid reader who wants to learn more about French wines.

Wine Grape: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties may very well be the most beautiful book in our collection. This hefty reference guide from Ecco includes gorgeous, lushly illustrated botanical drawings. Each variety is covered in detail, from color to origins to varieties commonly mistaken for the grape in question. I would recommend this for the amateur sommelier ready to take their education to the next level. Of course the Sommelier program here is not just about wine. The experienced Somm must also be well versed in beer, sake and spirits. Here are a couple selections of the many books we have available on the other beverages.


While we hear a lot about food and wine pairings, it is rare to hear about how to pair beer with food. In Tasting Beer, author and beer enthusiast Randy Mosher covers the subject with the same care and detail so often afforded to wine. This book has a little bit of everything, history, tasting notes and pairing ideas all with colorful illustrations. If you are clueless about beer, but would like to know more, this book is for you.

There are many students who come by the library toward the end of the program who blind test wine with the best of them, yet are clueless when it comes to cocktails. We have an excellent selection of books on spirits, from histories to bartending guides. The Cocktail Lab by Tony Conigliaro stands out because it is more than just a collection of recipes; it details the science, art and history of a wide range of cocktails. Conigliaro covers the classics of course, but he also details his various cocktail “experiments” from perfumed drinks to sous vide cocktails.

There you have it, for the Sommalier in the stacks. Stop by the ICC Library to check out these and many more beverage books. To keep up with whats new in the library, follow us on Twitter and Instagram via @IntlCulLibrary or follow ICC directly at @ICCedu.


Library Notes // The ABCs of the DVDs

By Rose Kernochan
ICC Library Assistant

ICC’s students come to the library asking for specialized cookbooks about molecular gastronomy, working with sugar and plating desserts. They search the bookshelves and often, they find what they need. But what they don’t know is that they have only reached our library’s top layer. Aside from the 5,000 or so volumes on the open shelves, there are rare, half-hidden reference volumes, tucked into a secluded nook–and then one last well-kept secret: the ICC’s stellar culinary DVD collection.

It’s good to study, say, Ewald Notter’s The Art of The Confectioner if you want to learn to work with sugar. But you can also watch Notter working with sugar on DVD. Likewise, you can read Dean Jacques Torres’ Dessert Circus, if you need to know about plating desserts—or you can watch him plating bombolini or almond kataifi, and talking about “plate presentation”, courtesy of one of the ICC’s large collection of DVDs by the deans (favorites like Jacques Pepin, Andre Soltner and Cesare Casella are also heavily represented).

Many of the library’s (literally) heavyweight molecular gastronomy cookbooks—such as A Day at El Bulli — are in the Reference Section, and can’t be checked out. But hidden in the DVD drawers, there are cool documentaries about Ferran Adria (like Anthony Bourdain’s “Decoding Ferran Adria”, or Gereon Wetzel’s “Cooking in Progress”), and the interactive CDs (with recipes!) which accompany a few of those expensive El Bulli reference books. Like everything else in those drawers, they can be checked out for a two-day period.

The DVDs aren’t limited to specialized topics, or even just Culinary or Pastry Arts. The ICC’s 6-disc “Basic Techniques” DVD can help provide backup for a student’s first steps in cooking school—just as the 6-disc Fundamentals of Wine (or Andrea Robinson’s Intensive Wine Class) can help teach wine basics to an early-career somm student. Knife-sharpening videos remind cooks how to keep their precise tools in the best possible shape—and there are even DVDs with tips for hand-sharpening Japanese knives.


If you’re a fan of a particular chef—Eric Ripert, David Chang, Anita Lo—there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find an “unplugged” interview or an unusual ICC demo starring your favorite culinary idol. You’ll be able to watch Bobby Flay tackling ceviche, or Chang doing Japanese dashi, or Ripert focusing on “scallops and foie gras with black truffle sauce”. What makes the ICC collection unique are the many in-house classes or guest chef demos—but standards like “Mind of a Chef” or Julia Child’s “The French Chef” are included also.

Last of all, there’s entertainment, designed to whet your appetite for that new food- or wine-world career. Comedy features like “Chef” , “Sideways” and the Japanese ramen classic “Tampopo” sit in the drawers next to more educational documentaries like “Mondovino” and the lyrical “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”.

To access the DVDs, just ask a librarian for help—or just search the library catalogue on your own, from the ICC website. If you’re on the computer, use keywords for whatever specialized area you’re looking for: say, “dashi”, “varietal” or “cake decoration”. If you want to go manual, you can also flip through the three ring notebook marked “DVD Catalog” which is on the librarian’s desk near checkout.



Library Notes // The Cookie Books

By Sara Medlicott,
ICC Librarian

It’s that time again, everyone’s favorite contest The Cookie Games will happen on August 4th this year! The Cookie Games is a competition open to all students to develop and produce a cookie inspired by a country. These cookies will be judged by a panel of celebrity judges for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place as well as by the audience to select a fan favorite. Last year’s top winner was Chocolate Cardamom Button by Savita Bhat. Second place went to the team of Julia Johnson & Elena Ubeda who created Lavender and Violet Shortbread cookies. The Nagelkass Cocktail Cookie by Maureen Naff came in third. As you can see, creativity is a major key to success.

If you are looking for inspiration to fill out an application, or if seeing the cookie posters around school has just made you hungry, stop by the library and take a look at some of our great cookie cookbooks.


The Gourmet Cookie Book

It is much more than a collection of cookie recipes; it’s a cultural history of the United States told through our recipes. During the Second World War, sugar was rationed so for the cookie pick of 1942, Gourmet recommended using honey instead of sugar. By 1976, the food processor was available to the US market, “it brings epicurean feats frequently into the realm of everyday fare,” one of these feats was Almond Bolas or Portuguese almond cookies.

In its earliest days, Gourmet assumed its users were accomplished cooks and wrote recipes in shorthand, but as the years went on the recipes needed to be made accessible for a readership who cooked less frequently. In 1982 the format of the recipes started evolving with the Chocolate Meringue Biscuits, listing ingredients separate from directions. The cookies highlighted are only several among many, with different flavors and styles, all representing different trends throughout history.


The International Cookie Cookbook by Nancy Baggett

As the theme of The Cookie Games is to select a country for inspiration, this book is completely appropriate with many ideas if you want to step outside the box of classic American cookies. Divided into regions, you can find Nanaimo Bars from Canada, Polvorones (Brown Sugar Cookies) from Cuba, Spitzbuben (Little Rascals) from Germany and even Lenguas de Gato (Cats’ Tongues) from Spain – don’t worry they don’t contain any tongue!


Martha Stewart’s Cookies by Martha Stewart.

Who doesn’t love Martha? Divided up by texture, this simple, easy to follow and very visual book includes a diverse range of cookie recipes. Try the light and delicate Amaretti Crisps, soft and chewy Pistachio Lemon Drops, crumbly and sandy Bourbon Currant Cookies, chunky and nutty Magic Blondies, the cakey and tender Fresh Peach Cookies, crisp and crunchy Earl Grey Tea Cookies or the rich and dense Lemon Tassies.

In the world of cookies the options are endless, as this small selection of books demonstrates. These and many other cookie recipes are available for you in the library. If you decide to enter the games, good luck! If not, be sure to stop by and vote for your fan favorite on August 4th at ICC!


Library Notes // Cake Techniques and Design

By Sara Medlicott,
ICC Librarian

Chef Cynthia Peithman is a regular in the ICC library. Not only is she a Chef Instructor here, she is also a student herself, pursuing a Masters Degree in Food Studies. Chef Cynthia uses the library to prepare for her class instruction here and research her assignments for school. Her capstone project at the end of last semester focused on – what else? Sugar! For her project she created a unique and beautiful cake themed around sugar cane fields in the Dominican Republic. The cake was inspired by her reading and is full of hidden details which tell the history of the fields and sugar production.

Would you like to learn how to sugar sculpt Fidel Castro? Sugar craft a sugar cane? Learn from Chef Cynthia herself in our upcoming Cake Techniques and Design Program! In the meantime, check out some of her top picks for cake books.


How Baking Works by Paula Figoni

Take the guess work out of your baking with Paula Figoni’s How Baking Works. This text delves into the science of baking so you can understand how batter temperature impacts texture and why different sweeteners change the quality of cake. The book takes complex subjects and distills them so they are accessible to the average person. It also includes questions, exercises and experiments at the end of each chapter in case you need more practice with any particular topic.

Stylish Cakes: The Extraordinary Confections of the Fashion Chef by Charlotte Neuville

Stylish Cakes is a recent release from ICC alum Charlotte Neuville also known as the Fashion Chef. It features a wide range of her intricate and chic cakes for all different occasions from birthdays to fundraisers to weddings, each with a unique spin on client requests. Chef Cynthia has worked with Charlotte and you will even find one of her special touches pictured within – see if you can guess which cake she contributed to.


Debbie Brown’s Enchanted Cakes for Children

If you are looking for a bit more instruction, we have several books by Debbie Brown here in the library. In each of her cake books she provides detailed, step by step instructions for anything you may want to create, in this case, mystical fantasy cakes for children. From mermaids to dragons to sunken treasure, you can find a cake to match almost any theme included within. Brown even includes templates and recommended suppliers in the back of the book.

The Art of Royal Icing by Eddie Spence

Eddie Spence covers both recipes and technique in depth with detailed step by step instruction, process photos and templates throughout. The book concludes with design ideas for full cakes representing a multitude of occasions and skill levels. Each cake includes a helpful list of all techniques used as well as the pages where you can find those instructions in the book so you can go back and review if need be. For classic beautiful cakes look no further.

We have these and many many more cake books in the library, so stop by and take a look!


Library Notes // Bread Baking

By Sara Medlicott,
ICC Librarian

Anyone who has been to International Culinary Center knows of the famous bread rack. For new staff and students it’s almost mystical: at 3pm each day freshly baked goods from the bread class are available to take. If you’ve visited the school, we may have sent you home with a baguette or another treat. Needless to say, Chef Johnson is revered as the magician behind the rack.

To create your own yeast magic you can sign up for the Art of International Bread Baking program or to give it a try on your own with Chef Johnson’s top recommendations of bread books.

Bread Baking Books New York Culinary Library

For beginners

Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman. This classic text on bread gives an excellent overview of not just recipes but techniques with clear and easy to follow diagrams. Over 100 recipes cover everything from Baguettes to Whey bread, and the appendixes contain detailed instructions for more complex processes. Hemelman even covers 10 methods for braiding Challah! This book provides a detailed overview of everything from the world of bread.

Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish. Ken Forkish originally worked in tech, but after 20 years he knew it was not his true calling, so he trained at multiple schools and opened Ken’s Artisan Bakery in 2001. Forkish provided excellent step by step illustrated guides for both bread and pizza. The process photos make it easy for beginners to follow along and understand technique. The pizza section includes not only dough but creative topping ideas such as golden beet and duck breast and sweet potato and pear.

Technical Aspects

Bread Science by Emily Buehler. If you are more interested in the science behind the loaf, check out the work of Emily Buehler. She applies her PhD in Chemistry to artisanal bread baking describing such crucial processes as fermentation, yeast, gluten and gas retention. As Chef Johnson says, “It doesn’t teach you how to make bread, it helps you understand how bread is made”.

The Taste of Bread by Raymond Calvel. This book also details the science behind the loaves including taste, crust and fermentation in all types of bread. Calvels dives into a great amount of detail and this book would be best for intermediate to advanced bakers or those with a strong understanding of scientific principles.

Bread Baking Class

Wood Fired Oven Baking

From the Wood-Fired Oven by Richard Miscovish. This beautiful book covers everything you need to know about wood-fired baking, even the steps for how to simulate it if you don’t have access to a wood fired oven. The recipes and techniques included are not exclusively for bread, but it is also covered.

The Bread Builders by Daniel Wing. The Bread Builders is more specific to baking bread in a wood fired oven. This book includes not only the ingredients and procedures but also instructions for how to build your own wood fired oven and examples from various bakeries. If you are ready to go all in than this is the book for you!


Advanced Bread and Pastry: A Professional Approach by Michel Suas. This text is for when you have exhausted the others. For the advanced baker, Suas provides extensive details on bread and pastry. This book includes formulas for almost every type of bread you can imagine and encyclopedia details on everything bread and pastry.


Library Notes // Spanish Cooking

By Sara Medlicott,
ICC Librarian

“The highest expression of culture, besides art, is gastronomy. Gastronomy is the art of every day,” – Chef Jose Menendez

With an opening line like that, you know you are in for an excellent class. I recently had the pleasure of participating in the Essentials of Spanish Cooking course (next start June 6!). I was also lucky enough to sign up at the same time as the incredible Kristen Maugeri from Admissions.

Spanish cooking class
(Photos by Chef Jose Menendez and Kristen Maugeri)

The reason this class was so outstanding is not just learning to make tapas, chorizo or paella, but because Chef Jose Menendez is a walking encyclopedia of Spanish cuisine, culture and history.

He didn’t just teach us the technique for traditional paella, but he also explained why most “Spanish” restaurants here do not make it the traditional way, how it is different region by region and where it originated. So I came away with some amazing recipes, new culinary skills and I also gained a tremendous amount of knowledge. There is another class coming up in June, and I can’t recommend it highly enough, what could be more impressive for your next party than a spread of homemade tapas? If you can’t wait until June, stop by the ICC library! Chef Jose is a regular patron and he selected a few books from the collection that cover some of what we learned in class.

We started off with Tapas. Imagine my surprise that I have been doing Tortilla Espanola wrong all this time! I quickly learned the proper technique and it will only take a few modifications from what I was doing before to vastly improved flavor. Other favorites were the Mejillones a la Vinagreta (Mussels in Vinaigrette) and Coquetas de Pollo (Chicken Croquets). Variations on these, as well as many other tapas recipes are available in the beautiful Pintxos: Small Plate in the Basque Tradition by Gerald Hirigoyen and The Book of Tapas by Simone & Ines Ortega.

Next was Charcuterie. We learned how to make two types of sausage, classic chorizo and blanquets Valencianos. Here at the ICC library, we have a huge selection of all types of Charcuterie books. For the home cook, Chef Jose suggests Toro Bravo by John Gorham & Liz Crain which has very clear and easy to follow instructions for making chorizo at home. The book covers much more than sausage though; it also teaches you how to make tapas, raciones and cocktails. Toro Bravo is a great overview of Spanish cuisine as interpreted by a chef in Portland.


Finally, we came to Paella day. Paella day is a favorite of the whole school because there is always plenty to go around. The whole class cooks two large pans as a group, then shares with everyone. In fact, my first experience of the Spanish class was during the previous session when I got a call in the library from a student, “Chef says you can come down for paella!” What better way to take a break than that? At last, it was my turn to be the Paella angel and we rolled the two huge platters upstairs during dinner break.

To try your hand at home, check out Paella by Alberto Herraiz. This beautiful and thorough book covers everything you need to know start to finish and has recipes for many regional variations such as Barcelona style, A Banda, Valencian and even New York Style. If you aren’t a rice fan, have no fear. There is an entire section of non-rice paellas with everything from quinoa and bulgur to desert paella with apples and camembert.


For our last day the focus was on Molecular Gastronomy which is a passion of Chef Jose. It was always hard for an amateur like me to imagine whipping up some of these space age foods we see in magazines, but in this class we learned several recipes from start to finish. While they do require some unusual tools and ingredients, you don’t need a Michelin starred restaurant kitchen or a food lab to start on basic molecular gastronomy, you can do it right at home.


To find out more about the Spanish origins of this food movement, come pick up Ferran: The Inside Story of elBulli and The Man Who Reinvented Food by Colman Andrews or A Day at elBulli by Ferran Adria — both cover the details of one of the original modernist restaurants in Spain. If you are a huge elBulli fan, you may also want to take a look at the yearly catalogues (see if you can find our signed copy!)

Of course, elBulli is not the only modernist restaurant in Spain. Chef Jose also recommends One Day at Mugaritz Restaurant by Bent Christensen. This beautiful book walks the reader through the inner workings of Mugaritz from the dishes to the philosophy. We also have the Mugaritz cookbook, if you feel inspired to try yourself.

All of these and many more books on Spanish cuisine are available in the ICC library, so stop by and have a look.

Women Chefs Books

Library Notes // Women’s History Month

By Sara Medlicott,
ICC Librarian

While we are all used to the tired clichés about how a woman’s place is in the kitchen, the same has never been true of the professional kitchen. While traditionally women are expected to cook at home, the history of the culinary world has been very much a man’s world. As Women’s History Month draws to a close, I thought it was a good opportunity to highlight a few books on women chefs from our collection.

Skirt Steak: Women Chefs on Standing the Heat and Staying in the Kitchen by Charlotte Druckman

Charlotte Druckman’s prescient book highlighted many of the issues that have recently been receiving mass media coverage back in 2012. If recent articles about the lack of recognition for female chefs and balancing motherhood with a culinary career spurred your interest, Skirt Steak will allow you to delve deeper with an accessible, conversational tone and profiles of many women in the industry.

Women Chefs of New York

Women Chefs of New York by Nadia Arumugam

This cookbook highlights some of the top women chefs of New York City. Divided by style of cooking, each section includes a brief bio and several recipes. Arumugam provides major inspiration and practical tips for aspiring female chefs. Recipes included run the gamut from Quail Adobo to Peaches and Cream Cookies with contributions from several ICC Alums; Christina Tosi, Sarah Sanneh and Jean Adamson.


Julia Child

M.F.K Fisher, Julia Child & Alice Waters: Celebrating the Pleasures of the Table by Joan Reardon

Joan Reardon has created three overlapping portraits of some of the most well known women in the culinary world. M.F.K Fisher was America’s most prolific food writer who breathed life into a largely unknown genre. Julia Child introduced American home cooks to French cooking through her books and television series. Alice Waters is the godmother of California cuisine and revolutionized fine dining in America. Reardon traces the shared friendships and influences of these women and reveals the private lives behind their public personas.

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz

One of the biggest names in the culinary world, Julia Child, went years without an in depth biography. Bob Spitz set out to remedy that situation with Dearie chronicling her fascinating life, from her time as a spy during World War II to her great romance with Paul Child, to her introduction to cooking in Paris and ultimate ascent to stardom and influence on the United State. This book was also a staff pick and comes highly recommended by Chef Lief. It is a must read for any Julia Child fan.


Library Notes // Italian Regional Cooking

By Sara Medlicott,
ICC Librarian

For most people the term Italian Food brings to mind pasta, pizza, meatballs and lots of red sauce. While that is, of course, a part of the tradition, region by region throughout Italy many other dishes combine to create a complex cuisine. There is something for everyone, even the tomato adverse and carb fearful. Here in the library, we have a wide selection of Italian cookbooks, including many that focus on specific regional recipes. If you’re ready to see what more Italian cooking has to offer, stop by and check these out!

True Tuscan: Flavors and Memories from the Countryside of Tuscany by Cesare Casella

Everyone at ICC knows Dean Cesare Casella by the signature pocketful of fresh rosemary on his chef coat, and the same herb adorns the cover of his guide to Tuscan cuisine. This book is full of rustic, traditional recipes such as Potato and Artichoke Tart, Tuscan Crepes with Wild Mushroom Sauce and Florentine Beefsteak. Each recipe includes a wine pairing which is incredibly useful for menu planning.

chef Cesare Casella

The Silver Spoon: Puglia

Everyone interested in Italian food knows that The Silver Spoon is the gold (er..silver?) standard. The influential cookbook contains over 2,000 recipes from all over the country, but even with such a comprehensive work the editors found more to add. Released by Phaidon, the beautiful series include not only recipes, but culture and history.

The Puglia book includes beautiful photography and a listing of all the regional food festivals – from early figs to fried dough ball and chocolate. The book features a wide range of traditional recipes separated by ingredient. Highlights include Lamb with Wild Fennel, Fried Hyacinth Bulbs and Pork with Pickled Peppers.

Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) by Russell Norman

This is a cookbook from London restaurant Polpo which was inspired by Norman’s travels in Venice. His focus is on uncomplicated small plates with very few ingredients. Some recipes in the book do not even require cooking.

Polpo is a beautiful book with unique binding and stunning cover art. Seafood is featured heavily (of course) with such dishes as Garlic and Chili Prawns and Warm Octopus Salad. There is something for everyone though, also included are Braised Ox Cheeks and Zucchini Shoestring Fries. The back lists recommended restaurants for when you pay your own visit to Venice.

Braised Ox Cheeks cookbook

The Silver Spoon: Sicily

Another book in the Phaidon Silver Spoon series, Sicily has the quality content and beautiful layout that you can expect from this collection. The island features unique cuisine due to the many different cultural influences. For instance, we don’t typically associate couscous with Italian food, but the book contains Trapani-style Couscous, a mixed seafood dish.

Believe it or not, it’s not exclusively seafood; the cuisine of Silcily is also dictated by the microclimates that exist on the island. Traditionally, Sicillians didn’t travel around the island and the unique cuisine developed accordingly with seafood on the coast and dishes like Sweet-and-sour Nebrodi Rabbit served inland. Sicily is also famous for gelato, so pick up this book and try the traditional Sicilian breakfast – brioche stuffed with gelato and a shot of espresso.

These are just a few of the many diverse Italian cookbooks available in the ICC library. Stop by and take a look!

– Sara


Library Notes // Lunar New Year

By Sara Medlicott,
ICC Librarian

Welcome to the Year of the Monkey!

This year, Lunar New Year fell on the 8th of February, but if you missed it, don’t worry you’re not too far behind. In China, the full week is considered a holiday and the Lunar New Year Season will continue until February 22nd. On that day, all festivities culminate in a Lantern Festival which represents the end of the season.

There is still time to celebrate by cooking Chinese food, and we have a great selection in the library to get you started. If you are addicted to Chinese food, here are a few suggestions that are traditionally served at Lunar New Year.

Dumplings are prepared to bring in wealth and treasure, but be sure you are making them properly. Too few pleats purports poverty and a sauerkraut filling can imply a difficult future. However, filling your dumplings with cabbage and radish will bring fair skin and a gentle mood. Arrange your finished dumplings in lines rather than circles that way your life will go forward, not go around in circles.

However you prepare them, be sure to make a lot because the more dumplings you eat, the more money you will make throughout the year. In the Lucky Peach Cookbook, 101 Easy Asian Recipes, Peter Meehan offers clear and simple “Dollar Dumpling” instructions with several different fillings and the essential sauce. Says Meehan on Sauce, “Sauceless dumplings are like crying-on-the-inside kind of clowns: They look the part but something important is missing.” This book is a great jumping off point for anyone new to Asian cooking. There are recipes representing many different countries all with clear instructions and ingredients that are easy to find.

Chinese New Year Recipes Culinary Library

Another auspicious way to start your year off right is with another dim sum favorite, spring rolls. Spring Rolls are served as a wish for prosperity because they look like gold bars. Traditionally a portion would be left as temple offerings before being eaten at home. My Grandmother’s Chinese Kitchen: 100 Family Recipes and Life Lessons by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo includes not only a great spring roll recipe, but a whole chapter including the history and myths of Lunar New Year in her family and of course many more recipes to create a feast.

No Lunar New Year feast is complete without fish. This is because the Chinese word for fish sounds like surplus. The fish should always be the last dish with some left over and it should not be moved after being placed on the table. The two people who are seated facing the head and tail of the fish should drink together for good luck. One of my favorite Chinese cookbooks contains a classic Lunar New Year fish recipe. In the beautiful The Seventh Daughter: My Culinary Journey from Beijing to San Francisco, Cecilia Chiang tells her fascinating life story and illustrates each phase with recipes. Her Steamed Black Bass with Ginger and Green Onions is a Cantonese preparation perfect for finishing off the banquet.

Wondering what to serve with your meal? Chinese Wine of course! The popularity of the documentary Red Obsession has the wine world buzzing about China. What better occasion to learn more than Lunar New Year? Chinese Wine: Universe in a Bottle by Li Zhengping covers the history, varieties, legends and rituals around wine in China. So read up to make your selection, then pour up for those lucky folks staring at the fish platter.

We have these and many other excellent books focused on Chinese cooking. So stop by the library and pick up everything you need to eat, drink and be merry!

– Sara