Bitter A Taste of the World's Most Dangerous Flavor, with Recipes



The champion of uncelebrated foods including fat, offal, and bones, Jennifer McLagan turns her attention to a fascinating, under-appreciated, and trending topic: bitterness.

What do coffee, IPA beer, dark chocolate, and radicchio all have in common? They’re bitter. While some culinary cultures, such as in Italy and parts of Asia, have an inherent appreciation for bitter flavors (think Campari and Chinese bitter melon), little attention has been given to bitterness in North America: we’re much more likely to reach for salty or sweet. However, with a surge in the popularity of craft beers; dark chocolate; coffee; greens like arugula, dandelion, radicchio, and frisée; high-quality olive oil; and cocktails made with Campari and absinthe—all foods and drinks with elements of bitterness—bitter is finally getting its due.

In this deep and fascinating exploration of bitter through science, culture, history, and 100 deliciously idiosyncratic recipes—like Cardoon Beef Tagine, White Asparagus with Blood Orange Sauce, and Campari Granita—award-winning author Jennifer McLagan makes a case for this misunderstood flavor and explains how adding a touch of bitter to a dish creates an exciting taste dimension that will bring your cooking to life.

Jennifer McLagan is a chef and food stylist and writer who has worked in Toronto, London, and Paris as well as her native Australia. Her previous books, Bones (2005) and Fat (2007) were both widely acclaimed and each won Beard and IACP awards. Jennifer is a regular contributor to Fine Cooking and Food & Drink. She has lived in Toronto for more than thirty years with her sculptor husband, Haralds Gaikis, with whom she escapes to Paris as often as possible. On both sides of the Atlantic, Jennifer maintains friendly relations with her butchers, who put aside their best fat, bones, and odd bits for her. Visit www.jennifermclagan.com.

“Jennifer McLagan serves as an enthusiastic evangelist and expert guide by demystifying the dark and dangerous flavors of all things bitter and inspiring readers to explore and embrace this often unappreciated taste—on the plate and in the glass.”
—Brad Thomas Parsons, author of Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All

Radicchio and Pumpkin Risotto

Beer Jelly

Tea Custard

 

 

Radicchio and Pumpkin Risotto

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Beer Jelly

Beer

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Tea Custard

Teas

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Bitter: Reprinted with permission from Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

 

Photography Aya Brackett © 2014