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The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  3,932 ratings  ·  162 reviews
Winner of the 2009 James Beard Book Award for Best Book: Reference and Scholarship

Great cooking goes beyond following a recipe--it's knowing how to season ingredients to coax the greatest possible flavor from them. Drawing on dozens of leading chefs' combined experience in top restaurants across the country, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg present the definitive guide to...more
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published September 16th 2008 by Little, Brown and Company (first published September 13th 2008)
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The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. RombauerHow To Cook Everything by Mark BittmanBetter Homes and Gardens New Cook Book by Better Homes and GardensMastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia ChildMy Greek Traditional Cook Book 1 by Anna Othitis
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Community Reviews

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Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
Let me start off by giving you the bad:
You are going to want this book for your collection so don't bother with borrowing it from the library.
The library wants their copies back-I know! The nerve!
This is not really a book for beginner's. It doesn't tell you step by step what to do with food.

The Good:
It does tell you flavors and tastes that pair with other tastes and I likey that.
If you have a bunch of asparagus about to go bad in the fridge just pick up this book and it will tell you flavours t...more
Erica
I don't understand why so many people like this book. I found it to be both confusing and unnecessary. Anyone with a nose and a set of tastebuds can figure out that asparagus tastes nice with butter or that maple syrup goes with French toast or that LETTUCE works well with BACON, BREAD, and TOMATOES (this is blatantly obvious to anyone who has ever eaten a SALAD). And any person who has encountered horseradish can tell you that its flavor is quite strong (or, as the Flavor Bible calls it, "very...more
Sorenconard
After checking this book out multiple times at the library I finally own it. A must have for anyone that wants to take their cooking to the next level. No recipes, very little on technique, just page after page after page of flavor listing charts and brief ideas from chefs that like to use the ingredient.

If you are a home cook who is tired of "line cooking" recipes from cook books, or started changing/tweeking recipes to reflect your style but want to do more this will be a priceless book for y...more
Keith
I have longed for just this book for years! You wouldn't believe how excited I was when I saw it. If I could only keep one book it my kitchen, this would be the one.

This is not a cookbook. Not really. It's more like a flavor encyclopedia: Look up a spice, herb, vegetable, or even season or type of ethnic cuisine, and you will find a list of complimentary flavors, plus a few cooking techniques. Look up black beans, and it will suggest a lengthy list of pairings, with emphasis on the stronger opti...more
Rachel
This book is one of the most helpful tools in my kitchen. It lists food alphabetically and each entry has a number of flavor suggestions. For instance: FRENCH TOAST. Maple syrup. Bananas. Sausage. Some flavor combinations are so out-there that I'd never have thought of trying them, while others are obvious. There are also little sidebars full of advice, descriptions of chef's dishes, and more. I love this book and I recommend it to any cook who likes to create recipes from scratch!
Jessica
In these days of high food and gas prices, I do not part with my dollars easily. Every time I pull out my wallet, it is only after much thought and some time spent foraging for cheaper alternatives, or else a realization that the coveted item is just that -a want instead of a need.

Books are high on that list on 'wants'. It took me many years to come to this conclusion, but after re-discovering the joys of my public library, I have now firmly placed owned books on my luxury list.

Here's a confess...more
♥Xeni♥
This is a pretty awesome "cookbook". I say cookbook in quotes, because it's not really that. It's more like a how-to book on becoming a great chef (from level good). Detailed information on which herbs and spices and ingredients and all what you need for cooking go well together (or super excellent together or not at all!)

Based on both experience from some of America's top chef's as well as molecular biology research, this book is definitely a first of the sort that I've ever found. As someone w...more
Matthew Gatheringwater
This is not a cookbook, and that's a good thing.

There are no recipes, only lists and descriptions of compatible flavors, along with reflections from a handful of well-known and trendy chefs. Apparently geared to the professional cook (unless sous-vide has become a home cooking technique), it can still offer inspiration to the adventurous home cook. It has, in any case, inspired me to put fresh thyme and honey on my grapefruit.

The lists are not consistent. What is listed as a classic pairing und...more
Samantha
One of the most useful books in my kitchen!

A book for the culinary tinkerer: Perfect for anyone who loves to cook and experiment in the kitchen without having to rely on recipes or cookbooks.

The flavor bible is organized so you can look up any ingredients, say, for example "asparagus" and find complimentary ingredients, cooking techniques, and flavor combinations. This is both great for cooking seasonally such as when you have a turnip from your farm box and you don't know what to do with it, o...more
Mattie
Terrifically comprehesive reference work! Organized by ingredient, each entry provides a long list of complementary foods and flavors, with the most traditional or typical pairings highlighted. So, say you've had a trip to the farmer's market and bought some veggie or herb you're not familiar with - you can consult the book to get ideas of complementary flavor profiles to help you figure out how to use it. Or, if you have a couple of items you are familiar with, but haven't ever had a dish with...more
Amanda
Recipes are nice for learning new skills and how to prepare new dishes, but mostly when I cook I just want to know how to mix and remix flavour combos, especially spices and seasonings. If I could download all of my father's knowledge and cooking experience into my brain, it would be no problem, but this book will have to suffice. It is hands down the most useful book in my kitchen on a day-to-day basis. The ability to look up key ingredients you are cooking with and find things that complement...more
kirk
If I only had four reference books in my kitchen, they'd be:

1. Timing Is Everything
2. The Food Substitutions Bible
3. Some kind of exhaustive field guide to the grocery store which I haven't yet identified.

and

4. The Flavor Bible. A good Sunday afternoon involves a lot of sunshine and a long stretch of time on the sofa leafing through this book. In short, it collects lists of flavors that go well together.

Chef Michael Laiskonis says, "I like the combination of rosemary with pineapple." As it turn...more
Liz
Jun 01, 2009 Liz rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who loves to cook
Shelves: cookbooks
I love this book! I'm terrible at planning meals in advance and then making a shopping list based on that. This book is perfect for someone like me who likes to find or create recipes based on what you have on hand.

Since I joined a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm, I now get a plethora of produce based on what is in season. I use this book to look up veggies I'm not used to cooking with, such as bok choy or swiss chard, and then based on what other foods go well with that ingredient, I...more
Erin
I ADORE this book. no more being stumped by an ingredient, or looking for a whole recipe. If you use recipes as more of a jumping-off point, this will get you confidantly out in deeper waters.
It's as if someone cross referenced a bunch of recommendations and recipes to tell you what works with what. Or like a good cook giving you a hint when your'e stuck. I can take stock of the fridge, pick something, and scan it's entry for another ingredient i have and then stride into the kitchen to combine...more
Marian
Excellent book for all my friends who say they "cook from the hip" and don't use recipes. This is a book that explores flavor affinities. For example, If you had some pork sausages, you could make them taste like many different cuisines. They could be Spanish or German or Italian or Korean based on the accompanying flavor notes. I really enjoyed how you could look up an ingredient and be inspired by all the flavors suggested. Not a cook book more of a chef's book. Got to buy it for myself.
Tim
i mean, maybe useful if you have a rando ingredient in the fridge and don't know what to do with it - but not rocket science. i thought perhaps the chefs opining on different ingredients would be inspiring, but it's not. i thought there would be recipes - nope. just a bunch of suggested pairings organized poorly. is it a bad book - no, but it's certainly not james beard award worthy.
Nicole
Hands down the best cookbook I've ever owned. The flavor bible will not give you recipes. It will answer the question, "I have chicken, and thyme...but when else should I put in here?" I especially love that it tells you 'Holy Grail' pairings of flavors.

Special thanks to my sister Victoria for this LOVED christmas gift a few years ago.
Andrea
This is an incredible reference, especially for cooks who enjoy 'winging-it' instead of always following closely to recipes. This gives great guidance for flavor combinations that work, and allows for 'safe' creativity in the kitchen. I turn to this book almost weekly, and far more than any cookbook I've ever owned. Highly recommended.
Dinamarie
May 24, 2010 Dinamarie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone that likes to cook
This is THE most important book that a person who likes to cook should have in their library. It is chock full of food ingredient pairings. It tells you what goes with everything. I refer to it several times a week and have used it to create dozens of recipes over the last year.
Kendall
best foodie book i think i've ever had (no offense nigella, you'll always have a big piece of my heart). i use it at the store as a guide to know what to buy and cook with what. i think i've got some decent food instincts but this book is definitely educating those instincts.
Michelle
This is one of my most often used cookbooks. It is an encyclopedia of flavors. Flavors, ingredients, and spices are listed alphabetically, and beneath the flavor are listed other flavors or ingredients that pair well with it. This is very helpful when making simple recipes that you want to re-vamp. For example, I was making a simple strawberry crumble, but I wanted some complexity. I searched for "strawberries" and saw that cardamom and coriander were listed as pairing well with the berries. I u...more
Melissa
This is another great reference book for someone like me. I like to cook but I am not great at following a recipe. The Flavor Bible allows me to have an idea for a meal and flash it out with other flavors that work. Anotehr one to buy!
Christina Cassel


One of my favorite books when I am creating dishes and want to know the flavor pairings. Its easy to find the ingredients in the book making it quicker to trying the masterpiece out!
Heidi Thorsen
I love this book. Once I've established a particular dish as a "favorite" I tend to cook it again and again, and eventually get myself into a rut. This book gets me out of the rut by reminding me of all the other flavors I might like to try. Sometimes the switch is just as simple as keeping the cooking technique exactly the same, but substituting a few herbs or spices, which give the dish an entirely new flavor, but with the ease of preparation that I'm used to. This book has no recipes, so it's...more
Matthew
I knew before I got into this that it was a reference book (it won the James Beard award in "Reference" for 2009) so there's not a lot of prose/investigation analysis to read. The first part does talk about this book's place in the compendium of books by the authors. In addition, there is a set of interview snippets from a number of chefs that serve to illustrate the points about "flavor" that the authors are promoting/making.

The best part of the book, however, is the reference guide which occup...more
Wendi
Perfect for : Personal Use, Gift for someone who loves to cook

In a nutshell: This is an awesome book! It is full of such a wealth of information to aid in the kitchen. I can't tell you the number of times that I wanted to take plain chicken and use the herbs and spices that I had at my fingertips to create a mouth-watering meal. . . but no matter what I did, it didn't turn out as planned. With this book, I can do that. It doesn't tell me to put precise ingredients together to create the perfect...more
Bryn
I usually don't do cookbooks, even for baking--I learn the rules and go with the flow. When I first started out, this resulted in an equal amount of kitchen disasters ("Huh, I didn't know this was supposed to catch on fire") and kitchen masterpieces ("OHGOD, DID I WRITE THIS DOWN?! PLEASE TELL ME I WROTE THIS DOWN!") As soon as I saw The Flavor Bible, I knew it had to be mine. A cookbook that doesn't have any recipes, just information about food and what goes well with what? Yes. Please yes. Thi...more
Bobbie  Crawford
May 19, 2009 Bobbie Crawford rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who cooks...this is a reference guide, not a cookbook.
The Flavor Bible
Written By: Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg
Photographs By: Barry Salzman
Published By: Little, Brown and Company an Imprint of Hachette Book Group, 2008, First Edition, 392 pages, hardcover
ISBN 978-0316118408

This reverence guide is versatile, detailed and it has been exhaustively researched. With many basic ingredients, basic cooking ideas and simple dishes listed alphabetically, this guide is a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to cook regardless of experience or lack ther...more
Bruce
Sep 30, 2012 Bruce rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nouveau cuisine fans, cooks without inspiration or internet connections
A curious culinary compendium for cooks keen to cop comely combinations of comestibles, the book is basically a big alphabetized list of ingredients, with everything from achiote seeds (p. 37) to zucchini blossoms (p. 374). A typical entry (p. 199) looks like this:
LEMONS, PRESERVED
Taste: sour
Weight: light-medium
Volume: moderate-loud

cinnamon
cloves
lamb
MOROCCAN CUISINE
nigella seeds
saffron
Oh, and featured chef Brad Farmerie (Public, NYC) is quoted enthusiastically as favoring their use. Readers are...more
Wrighty
Feb 15, 2009 Wrighty rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
When I first heard of this book I thought it would be filled with recipes but this is all about flavor and how to enhance it. Until recently, dishes were based on geography and what was available near you. Now that ingredients are available all over the world they are based on flavor. This book was eight years in the making and is meant to inspire greater, more innovative creations. This guide to hundreds of different ingredients along with different seasonings, herbs and spices will allow you t...more
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4674
Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg have been called the brightest young author team on the culinary scene today's on NPR. Their previous books Becoming a Chef, Dining Out, and The New American Chef have all been finalists for or winners of James Beard and/or IACP Book Awards.

Their landmark book Culinary Artistry, the first- known reference on culinary composition and flavor compatibility, establishe...more
More about Karen Page...
The Food Lover's Guide to Wine Becoming a Chef The Vegetarian Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity with Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds, and More, Based on the Wisdom of Leading American Chefs Flavor Bible Nursing the Acutely Ill Adult Case Book

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