Food & Drink

Overwhelming Britishness, LA’s Best Mex and Tales From an Illicit Restaurant

Food Books You Actually Want

By Hadley Tomicki ·
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We know, we know—cookbooks. But here are three great-looking and distinctive new volumes about food that you should really check out, if only for their great-looking and distinctive qualities.

L.A. Mexicano
Any time someone comes to L.A. from out of town, they ask the same question: “Where should we get Mexican food?” At which point, anyone who knows anything about Mexican food usually double-checks with Bill Esparza, the city’s supreme expert on regional and modern Mexican cooking. In L.A. Mexicano, Esparza profiles 40 innovators, standard-bearers, suppliers and defenders of Mexican cooking in Los Angeles, while dissecting its vital neighborhoods, markets and street culture. Along the way, he hands over some legendary recipes, like one for the crucial taquitos at Downtown L.A.’s Cielito Lindo, saving readers a drive and a wait on line.

Adventures in Starry Kitchen: 88 Asian-Inspired Recipes from America’s Most Famous Underground Restaurant
Nearly a decade ago, Starry Kitchen was born in the apartment of Nguyen and Thi Tran, a soon-to-be-married, recently unemployed couple. A totally illicit restaurant, word of mouth would go on to make it the #1 place on Yelp before they’d turn legit. In their first book, Nguyen recounts their creation story and run-ins with health inspectors, while exposing the recipes behind some of their most crushable recipes, like buttermilk beer beignets, popular crispy tofu balls, and Singaporean chili crab that usually sells out well before it’s even cooked.

And now, the 7 Most British Things Said in the Fortnum & Mason cookbook.
Whether you’re a mad Anglophile or just someone who appreciates good marmalade, you probably know Fortnum & Mason, the 310-year-old British department store known for supplying tea to the Royal Family. It’s basically the most English thing you’ll ever find on earth, making its attractive book of recipes, just released in the U.S., as necessary as a Turnbull & Asser shirt and a pair of Tricker's. And just to nail down how completely British this thing is, here are the seven most British things we could find whilst perusing the volume.

1.  “They supplied tea, wine and ale to the officers of Waterloo and Trafalgar alike.” – from the intro.

2. “Boozy but rather brilliant.” – in a recipe for avocado toast with Bloody Mary sauce that uses the word “rather” three times.

3. “Tom Parker Bowles.” That’s who wrote this thing. He's the son of the Dutchess of Cornwall, as you may have guessed. And just look at the guy. It’s like someone force-fed Hugh Grant a steady diet of Pimm’s Cups for 30 days straight.

4. “We’ve all suffered the indignities of overcooked ovoids more suited to tennis than tucker.” – in a recipe for boiled egg and soliders

5. “You sure don’t want to annoy a Scotsman.” – in a recipe for porridge

6. “Sir Nigel’s is perfect and has a bold tang.” –Talking marmalade-glazed ham, of course.

7. “All this hard work, dedication and expertise means nothing if the tea is made with slapdish indifference.” –In a chapter called “the Art of Tea”

Hadley Tomicki lives in Los Angeles. He is probably going nowhere on the 10 Freeway this very second.

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