For food lovers, Georgia Pellegrini’s Food Heroes is the best kind of book. Within its pages are the remarkable stories behind some of the world’s best loved food (and beverage) and delicious recipes to boot. In a world where we are increasingly detached from the sources of food and the processes by which it is made, this book is a delightful reminder of the artisans who never left their roots and the people who gave it all up to get back to them. Pellegrini’s vignettes are an affirmation that the passion of an artisan, be it beer and bees or salami and seeds, matters not only to them but to us all.
In Norway, a man named Hans-Otto is breeding strong bees with scientific precision to combat a mysterious epidemic called “colony collapse disorder.” Without bees, which pollinate most of the world food sources, our world is in serious trouble. In Ghana, Steven Wallace’s single-source chocolate factory has given hundreds of jobs to locals. They are “among the highest paid in the country” and have access to free uniforms and meals to subsidized housing and free medical care. This chocolate is not only singular in taste and quality, it’s also making a difference.
As I said to a friend the other day, Pellegrini’s writing makes me want to step into the pages of the book, to see what she saw and taste what she tasted. I couldn’t help but feel jealous as she drank German beer stored in wooden barrels and ate long-forgotten varieties of heirloom potatoes. But her writing is so wildly descriptive, you see and taste vicariously. Although I now aspire to go on my own culinary pilgrimage or become a culinary artisan myself, her short stories were like a nightly vacation as I read before bed. For now, that will have to be enough.
Last week I made the Bamberg Stuffed Onions for dinner. Aside from hollowing out onions (I cried more than when I watch The Notebook), this was such an easy dinner. What’s not to love: onion, bacon, ground pork, fresh parsley and bread crumbs. The stuffed onions were incredibly flavorful, and as I drizzled the beer sauce over the onions I couldn’t help but think of Germans who had done the same that night (except my beer was from a Manhattan corner shop and theirs was from a six hundred year-old German brewery).
This book delivers the backstory we all need to hear: the story behind the food and the recipe.
To win a copy of Food Heroes, just tell us: Who is your food hero? Giveaway ends Friday, November 19th at 6pm EST.
The winner is comment #37 – Holly H! My Grandma Jewell, she was able to always put the most amazing meals together and made it look so easy. She made you feel like you were so special. No one can ever compare to her. I miss her dearly.
Connie Fenske says
My Grandma Lydia lived to be 100 and cooked until the
Connie Fenske says
I apologize for the previous unfinished comment. Grandma Lydia cooked & baked until the day she went to heaven. She is my angel hero 🙂 Thanks….
Kristine T says
My Grandma and the Pioneer Woman. My grandma taught me how to bake all kinds of cookies and the joy of baking from scratch. The Pioneer Woman taught me the joy of cooking good meals from scratch.
By far, the pioneer woman!
Ina Garten and The Pioneerwoman for inspiring me and my husband, Howard, for always being up for new culinary adventures.
Right now it’s Lynne Rossetto Kasper, I can’t get enough of her great radio show from American Public Media. I listen to her every Saturday, it’s the favorite part of my Saturday morning radio routine!
Julie Sam says
My Grandma and Aunt. They both left before they could tell me all the secrets of the family kitchen.
My mom. She didn’t know how to cook before she married my dad, and now she’s one of the best cooks I know.
I fell in love with cooking as a child watching Martin Yan on Yan Can Cook & Jeff Smith the Frugal Gourmet on PBS.
My mother could make ordinary food taste soooo good. Love can do that you know.
I’m going to break the mould here. My food hero, as stereotypical as it might be, is Julia Child. The woman had a love of precision that taught more than just a generation to cook, but also preserved a dying art before anyone really realized that important knowledge was “going away.” She showed us all how gusto and passion will get a woman far, and I am inspired and impressed by her journey. I only wish I could find something I believe in so passionately that I could make such an impact!
Dan (A Duo of Chefs) says
My food hero is Michael Pollan (I know, sort of obvious). But until I read “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” I really didn’t think about food production.
Jessica McManus says
My Mom, She always supported my every endeavor in the kitchen, whether there was chocolate from one end to the other or it turned out to be a complete flop, she loved it all.
My mom – she is a self taught wonderwoman in the kitchen.
Nancy Robinson says
My grandma. She always had a house full of foster children, and yet she was able to cook everyday. I only have two kids, and I can’t get near the stuff done that she did.
I have quite a few but the one’s that stick out the most currently would be Ree Drummond and Joy the Baker. They have such amazing personalities and you can really feel their joy when sharing their recipes/stories. Plus, you can really relate to them and their passion. It keeps you wanting more and makes the baking/cooking process so much more fun.
Kim Porter says
My grandma gave me my love for food. She was always so patient with me as a child…no task was too great for me to tackle by her side in the kitchen. She always said that the best way to show love in a home, besides giving a ton of hugs, was to cook for those you hold dear in your heart. She was, and thankfully still is, my food hero!
my food hero is my old boss Karen. She taught me, and everyone at the restaurant, how to love food.
Georgann G says
It changes frequently. I think of my sister…always trying new recipes and sharing meals with many. My grandmother- who, as legend has it, cooked everything in one pot, could feed an army at a moments notice and made her own phyllo. And my mom, who made dinner for us and taught me how to cook. She made more than meals, she made memories.
Teri Dingler says
I love Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten. Her recipes are so wonderful! But I really admire Julia Child! I loved watching her and love still seeing her re-plays! Teri Dingler
Naomi S. says
I have 2 food heros…I hope that doesn’t disqualify me. I get my love of cooking from my grandmother. Everything she has ever made has been delicious and wholesome. My inspiration comes from Alton Brown. I love his show Good Eats. Its good food and I learn a lot too.
Hands down, my wife Anna. Best yorkshire puddings in the world. Among other things. forget the food, frankly she’s my hero all round.
Samantha Angela says
She’s the only one in my family that still knows how to make all the delicious Lebanese food that my grandmother used to make.
My food hero is probably my great grandma. She had wonderful recipes!
Wouldn’t you know it…I’m 35 minutes late. Well, that will keep this from sounding like I’m sucking up! Pam, you’re one of my food heroes because How to Cook Without a Book changed my cooking life. Also, Ina Garten and the Pioneer Woman. I wish I could say my mom, but cooking wasn’t her forte. She made a couple of outstanding things, but by and large, not so good.
Pam Anderson and my grandmother, both brilliant cooks.
My mom. She’s taught me to appreciate all I am given and make the best food from very little.
James Beard, so many wonderful cookbooks, many (e.g. the Beard On x series of books) written in a way to teach techniques & recipes.
My grandma is my hero when it comes to food and cooking. I always loved her German cooking. She taught me many things about cooking. I made it a point to ask her for her recipes before she died. I still make many of her Christmas cookies – a great tradition.
My food hero is my daughter-in-law Katie’s Mom. She is an amazing but most of all a generous cook, she gives and gives and gives. Even if money is tight (whose isn’t with this economy) she opens her house to what she calls MND or Monday Night Dinner and all are invited, I mean she puts it out on Facebook. She plans and cooks yummy feel good foods that everyone loves but they are not always easy recipes. I have attended a few dinners at her house and everyone is truly welcome from every friend that her now grown children have to friends of those friends. When she comes for dinner at her daughter’s house she brings the meal and leaves all the leftovers behind and there is always so much to leave (she plans that too). Being around this non-stressed person who just plain loves cooking is such a pleasure.
June Ohm says
my food hero is my son – actually, all of my sons – the oldest makes the most amazing chiles and stir fries; the youngest makes the very best pie and hosts a summer backyard party (serving 100 or more guests) where he broasts/barbecues/smokes all the many pounds of meat; the middle son makes soups and grills and gives his kids freedom to experiment with their cooking skills