From the rolling hills and hollows in Appalachia to the flat salt marshes of South Carolina to an urban farm in metro-Atlanta, the South has a strong tradition of good food and generous hospitality. The region is well known for fried chicken, grits, and biscuits, but there are some Southern food-ways that many may find surprising: There have been Chinese Americans living in the Mississippi Delta since the 1800s; at one time more Italians lived in New Orleans than New York City, and an Atlanta suburb is known as the “Seoul of the South.” The South is rich in cultural diversity and the food of the modern global South reflects this.
As a two-time winner of Chopped and an instructor at one of the world’s top culinary school, James Briscione thought he knew how to mix and match ingredients. Then he met IBM Watson. Working with the supercomputer to turn big data into delicious recipes, Briscione realized that he (like most chefs) knew next to nothing about why different foods taste good together. That epiphany launched him on a quest to understand the molecular basis of flavour—and it led, in time, to The Flavor Matrix.
I liked this cookbook—a lot. It’s by Lukas Volger, a New York-based chef who set out to develop one-bowl meals that are all the rage today—but in vegetarian form. The possibilities for improvisational meals full of seasonal produce and herbs are nearly endless.
Volger’s ramen explorations led him from a simple bowl of miso ramen to a summer ramen with corn broth, tomatoes, and basil. From there, he went on to the Vietnamese noodle soup pho, with combinations like caramelized spring onions, peas, and baby bok choy. His edamame dumplings with mint are served in soup or over salad, while spicy carrot dumplings appear over toasted quinoa and kale for a rounded dinner. Grain bowls range from ratatouille polenta to black rice burrito with avocado. And unlike their meatier counterparts, these dishes can be made in little time and without great expense.
Volger also includes many tips, techniques, and base recipes perfected over years of cooking, including broths, handmade noodles, sauces, and garnishes.