Two new spice books recently hit the shelves: Padma Lakshmi’s The Encyclopedia of Spices & Herbs (Ecco, 2016; $39.99; written with Judith Sutton and Kalustyan’s) and Lior Lev Sercarz’s The Spice Companion (Clarkson Potter, 2016; $40). Lakshmi’s book is a comprehensive alphabetical guide which was “inspired by her life traveling across the globe.” Illustrated with rich color photos, this reference book includes complete descriptions, histories and cooking suggestions for ingredients from basic herbs to the most exotic seeds and chilis. And no other market epitomizes Lakshmi’s love for spices and global cuisine than Kalustyan’s, the exotic spice emporium in New York City where she spent many childhood afternoons. An essential guide to any serious culinary library, The Encyclopedia of Spices & Herbs is a wonderful guide to some of the most majestic flavors on earth.
Since founding La Boîte, a spice shop in New York City, in 2009, Lior Lev Sercarz has established himself as the go-to source for fresh and unusual spices as well as small-batch custom blends for renowned chefs around the world. The Spice Companion: A Guide to the World of Spices (Clarkson Potter, 2016; $40) is Lior’s definitive guide to building flavor, with a breakdown of 102 accessible spices that will inspire readers to try bold and new spice combinations. In this A-to-Z encyclopedia of spices, Lior provides the history and origin for 102 spices, information on where to buy and how to store each one, five different pairings, three quick suggestions for use (such as adding cardamom to chicken broth), and a unique spice blend recipe and how to use it. Lior shows us how a spice as simple as black pepper transforms dishes such as steak au poivre and cacio e pepe—and how an Aleppo chile can work wonders in guacamole and chocolate chip cookies alike. With stunning illustrations of each spice, vibrant photography, and a wealth of useful tips, The Spice Companion is a must-have resource that’s as beautiful as it is informative. Both books are available from www.amazon.com and www.bn.com.