August in New England means corn and tomatoes, tomatoes and corn. You must eat the corn on the cob, slathered with butter, sprinkled with salt. The tomatoes you can eat any way you like, though the less adulterated, the better. My preference? Sliced fat, dotted with chunky salt, and laid atop a crusty slice of French, with the thinnest layer of mayonnaise separating August's best fruit from the bread. Yum, and only minimal effort required.
Once August is over, I'm ready to get cooking. These six books, most coming out this fall, will serve to inspire.
Let's Make Ramen: A Comic Book Cookbook by Hugh Amano and Sarah Becan
Ten Speed Press, July 2019. Comic book cookbook. COMICBOOKCOOKBOOK! Yes! I'm in. Not only does this book from chef and writer Amano and illustrator Becan offer more than 40 ramen riffs, but it also offers ramen history, in graphic novel form. Nom noodles!
Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family by Priya Krishna
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 2019. As a cook, I'm scattered. I often stop mid-recipe and dash to the grocery to retrieve a forgotten ingredient. Pots boil over, ovens bake on too long. Most cookbooks intimidate me, but when a cover shouts "cooking is fun!" — and this cover does — I'm less afraid, more inspired. Bonus for my story-freak self: The book includes regular narrative tidbits about Krishna's family. Bonus for fans of Desi pop artist Maria Qamar, AKA Hatecopy: The book also features her work.
Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African-American Cooking by Toni Tipton-Martin
Clarkson Potter, November 5, 2019. "Adapted from historical texts … ." Four words into the publisher's description and I swoon! In her award-winning 2015 book The Jemima Code, food writer Toni Tipton-Martin explored the history of African-American cooks and cooking via 150 African-American cookbooks, spanning three centuries. In Jubilee, Tipton-Martin adapts recipes from those books for the modern-day cook and kitchen.
Antoni in the Kitchen by Antoni Porowski
Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September 9, 2019. I have no idea if Antoni, the food dude member of Queer Eye's Fab Five, can actually cook. I sob my way through each episode. By the time Antoni takes the target of the week into the kitchen, I'm hyperventilating. But my daughter and I binge the show together, and I'm willing to risk a purchase. Great cook or no, the man knows how to inspire. My hope is, he gets us off the screen and into the kitchen.
Nothing Fancy: The Art of Having People Over by Alison Roman
Clarkson Potter, October 22, 2019. At my house, Nothing Fancy + Having People Over = Pizza Delivery. While others will look to Roman's recipes — to which the publisher attaches words such as "unfussy" and "easy-to-execute" — as a means of toning down extravagant preparations, I will look to them as a means of stepping it up. Offering DIY Martini Bars and Casual Apple Tarts, I will certainly become the local equivalent of Elsa Maxwell. (I absolutely Googled "famous hostesses" to find Maxwell, with whom I am now obsessed.)
The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker, John Becker, Megan Scott
Scribner, November 12, 2019. My grandmother had The Joy. My mother had The Joy. When I got married, an unremembered someone gifted my husband and I The Joy. Every fall, after we pick apples, I bake Rombauer's apple cake. Otherwise, I use the cookbook primarily for reference, so much so that it's fallen to tatters. Just in time, Rombauer's great-grandson John Becker and his wife Megan Scott have tackled an update, with more than 600 new recipes plus many of the old classics.
Spine Authors Editor Susanna Baird grew up inhaling paperbacks in Central Massachusetts, and now lives and works in Salem. Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including Boston Magazine, BANG!, Failbetter, and Publishers Weekly. She's the founder of the Salem Longform Writers' Group, and serves on the Salem Literary Festival committee. When not wrangling words, she spends time with her family, mostly trying to pry the cat's head out of the dog's mouth, and helps lead The Clothing Connection, a small Salem-based nonprofit dedicated to getting clothes to kids who need them. Online, you can find her at susannabaird.com and on Twitter @SusannaBaird.