When Taste of the Midwest by Dan Kaercher, editor-in-chief of Midwest Living magazine (Insiders Guide, $29.95) landed on my desk, I immediately went to the chapter on Ohio. I wondered how our state s food could be described in 13 pages. I m happy to report that Toledo is well-represented in the book. The author cut a 210-mile swath through western Ohio from Toledo to Cincinnati, beginning with Tony Packo s and a mention of the Mud Hens, the Maumee River, and East Toledo. He wound his way to Freshwater Farms of Ohio in Urbana, White Castle hamburger outpost on Mitchell Avenue in Cincinnati, and Skyline Chili, the Montgomery Inn, and Graeter s Ice Cream, a Cincy food icon. Michigan is featured with the Traverse City area, the Cherry Festival, Tapawingo in Ellsworth, the Great Lakes Culinary Institute, American Spoon Foods, and the vineyards in Mission Peninsula in northern lower Michigan. Angling southward, the book takes you to Ann Arbor and Zingerman s. From the fried chicken wars of Kansas, to the brewers in Wisconsin, to the vinegar museum in South Dakota, this book is a treasure trove for travelers.
Other cookbooks have insights on travel, culinary reflections, descriptions, and regional cooking.
If New England is your destination this summer, Dishing Up Maine by Brooke Dojny (Storey, $19.95) details the foodways of the state; pack this cookbook with your maps. There s plenty of seafood recipes for crab, mussels, oysters, and lobsters. The book also has recipes from 24 of the best restaurants in the state, and includes information on food festivals and markets.
Tom Fitzmorris s New Orleans Food (Stewart Tabori & Chang, $19.95) is written by the New Orleans native, food critic, and radio host. Before Hurricane Katrina, he was putting the final touches on this collection of recipes. Now he s donating a portion of the profits to Habitat for Humanity to aid the recovery effort. Each recipe is steeped in Creole and Cajun traditions, yet reflects contemporary tastes and ingredients. Recipe include Frog s Legs Persilles, Stuffed Quail, Aline s Crawfish Etouffee, and Red Beans and Rice.
Dishes from the Wild Horse Desert: Norteno Cooking of South Texas, by Melissa Guerra (Wiley, $29.95), details the culinary culture of the area south of San Antonio, Texas. Learn how to make ground corn masa for tortillas and tamales, flautas, Cactus Cornbread, and empanadas. The author runs Your Mexican Marketplace, a company that sells Mexican foods, kitchen equipment, and housewares.
Big Sky Cooking by Meredith Brokaw and Ellen Wright (Artisan, $35) is a personal story of the Montana experience. The bounty of the region includes trout, bison and elk, locally raised poultry, native fruits, and vegetables. With nearly 100 recipes and color photographs, this food travelogue is for anyone who loves the American West. Recipes include Spinach Salad with Bacon Twists and Gorgonzola Croutons, Chiles Rellenos with a corn-batter crust, Sesame-Soy Venison Chops, and Chokecherry Jelly. Chokecherries are sour when picked in the West in late August. The fruit, laden with vitamin C, played a role in the diet of Plains Indians.
The New California Cook by Diane Rossen Worthington (Chronicle, $22.95) is an update of the original text written in 1994. Many of the original recipes include ethnic ingredients that are now considered staples. Recipes include Chicken and Apple Sausage, Turkey Sausages with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Country Sourdough Bread, Asian Guacamole made with fresh ginger and sake, and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto.