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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  ·  Rating Details ·  6,814 Ratings  ·  201 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
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Hardcover, 380 pages
Published September 16th 2008 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

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Erica
Aug 24, 2011 Erica rated it did not like it
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
Matthew Gatheringwater
Jan 13, 2009 Matthew Gatheringwater rated it liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
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
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Shelby *trains 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
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Jessica
Jul 24, 2011 Jessica rated it it was amazing
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
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Rachel
Aug 10, 2011 Rachel rated it it was amazing
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!
Sorenconard
Apr 08, 2013 Sorenconard rated it it was amazing
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
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Lauri
Feb 17, 2015 Lauri rated it really liked it
This is not a recipe book, so don't buy or read it looking for that. Instead, this is a book for upping your game as a home chef. If you want to make up your own creations (or riff off of recipes or improve old favorites) this book will teach you how to do that without having your food turning out like butt.

I saw this book in the bookstore the year that it came out. I remember being glued to it for about an hour in the store. Between the beautiful pictures and the genius design, I was obsessed.
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Keith
Apr 12, 2010 Keith rated it it was amazing
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
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Andrea
Feb 05, 2011 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
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.
♥Xeni♥
Jun 24, 2015 ♥Xeni♥ rated it it was amazing
June 24, 2015:

I was given this book in a gift exchange. It is so much more than I ever imagined. It is incredible!


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Feb 23, 2012:


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 Americ
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Samantha
Apr 10, 2010 Samantha rated it it was amazing
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
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Mattie
Feb 05, 2011 Mattie rated it really liked it
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
Mar 24, 2012 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cooking
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
Sep 28, 2009 kirk rated it it was amazing
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
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Liz
Jun 01, 2009 Liz rated it it was amazing
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
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Erin
Jun 11, 2010 Erin rated it it was amazing
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
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Marian
Aug 23, 2009 Marian rated it it was amazing
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.
Phuoc Phan
Jun 04, 2015 Phuoc Phan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you ever feel overwhelm at all these different spices and herbs, and you don't have a clue what they are for. Do I use peparika with chicken or pork, should I use cinamon for this or that, then this book is for you. It's a good reference book that explain briefly about the spice and herb as well as give you general guidance on matching among them. Definitely a must for anyone serious about cooking (less)
52 minutes ago · delete
Tim
Apr 03, 2012 Tim rated it liked it
Shelves: cookbooks
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
Jan 21, 2011 Nicole rated it it was amazing
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.
Melissa
Oct 12, 2011 Melissa rated it really liked it
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!
Dinamarie
May 24, 2010 Dinamarie rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 23, 2010 Kendall rated it it was amazing
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.
Christina Cassel
Feb 05, 2013 Christina Cassel rated it it was amazing


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!
Misha
Nov 07, 2016 Misha rated it it was amazing
(still in rough draft)

"The Flavor Bible" is one of my favourite culinary references. It's perfect for those "what's left in the pantry?" and "I'm bored with this way" days: pick a main ingredient or two, flip to its coinciding page, and get some fresh ideas to change it up.

I recently gave my cousin "the Flavor Bible" and "the Deluxe Food Lover's Companion" while telling her she needs to learn to cook, that as a chef I refuse to have her new daughter raised on crap food. At least she has a few
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Bruce
Sep 30, 2012 Bruce rated it it was ok
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
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Carlos Vasquez
Nov 09, 2016 Carlos Vasquez rated it it was amazing
Like a dictionary, you're not necessarily supposed to sit and read this book cover-to-cover. It's mainly a reference guide to which ingredients go with what. The exception, of course, is the foreword, which gets you to think about food and flavors in a different way than the usual home cook. Having The Flavor Bible on your bookshelf will assist you immensely in designing new recipes no matter the ingredients in your kitchen.
Nina
Oct 15, 2016 Nina rated it it was amazing
I 'read' this book at least once a week. It is an indispensable cooking resource, set so you can quickly find an ingredient, scan and find the most complementary flavors. Brilliant!
Darby
Jul 13, 2013 Darby rated it it was amazing
A description from Barnes & Noble's website:

"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 creating "deliciousness" in any dish. Thousands of ingredient entries, organized alphabetically and cross-referenced, provide a treasure trove of spectacular
...more
Pat
Sep 21, 2016 Pat rated it really liked it
Shelves: food-cooking
I'm often in need of inspiration to cook - I've been cooking for more years than I care to remember and I'm often bored with the same old same old. Sometimes the fruit and vegie shops carry something I haven't come across before and I'm wondering what to do with them. I still haven't got around to buying celeriac and when I do get it I'll be looking in here for what will be sharing the plate with it. Lots of tips from chefs and restaurant owners..
If you are not curious about something other tha
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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
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More about Karen Page...

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“once we wanted to make a cookie with a really concentrated flavor. So, we threw cookies into the dehydrator, and turned them into powder. This created a new building block for flavor. [Instead of the flour you would normally use in your dough,] you weigh the powdered cookies out as your starch in your normal cookie recipe. But this starch is now a carrier of flavor for the end product—so the resulting cookie now tastes more like it “should” than it would have just using regular flour.” 0 likes
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