Tidbits Book Review – Lobel’s Meat Bible
Here it is, my first review of the year. Granted, it’s taken me a while to get around to it, but I think it’s worth the wait. A couple of weeks ago, I received a cookbook called Lobel’s Meat Bible – All You Need to Know About Meat and Poultry from America’s Master Butchers from Raincoast Books ($52) and just had to review it. Featuring 135 recipes, the hardest part was deciding which recipe to try first. I rated it out of 5 for no other reason than I like the sound of it. To get a top score, the book must be well-bound. (There’s little worse than pages falling softly to the floor while you’re hands deep in a recipe.) The recipes must work, even if you’re not an Executive Chef, and the photos should be clear and colourful.
Here’s my take on Lobel’s Meat Bible.
Score: 4/5 A ton of information here, but not quite the bible the authors suggest it is.
Pros: At 320 pages, Lobel’s Meat Bible is definitely a contender. It covers all kinds of meats, including tripe and tongue, giving descriptions, cooking and buying tips. The book is also chock full of easy-to-follow recipes taken from many cultural traditions spanning the globe. Large colourful photos of many of the dishes are inserted every 3 pages or so, and boy, do they make your mouth water!
For those of us whose favourite bedtime read is a cookbook, Lobel’s fits the bill. It’s full of background information on all the meats and some techniques. I learned some interesting tidbits, like don’t buy pre-wrapped chicken if liquid is puddling inside the package. It means that “the bird was flash frozen, defrosted (often unintentionally), and then refrozen.”
My biggest beef with Lobel’s is that the authors haven’t included a diagram of all the cuts of meat. Although they describe where on a cow one might find shell, tri-tip and club steaks, there’s no accompanying visual to help those of us who can’t quite seem to picture such things. The only other drawback to this book is that it’s written for an American audience. The names of meat cuts would be well known to American cooks, but not so well known to Canadians. One morning, I put 3 butchers through my quickly devised “American terminology” test. 2 out of the 3 had no problem translating the American cuts into their Canadian equivalents.