In this week's cookbook review we are back with the newest book from chef Bo Bech - The Relation Between Us.
Bo Bech has said before that “If I have to choose one word to describe myself it’s curiosity.” This characteristic of the chef is most evident in his latest (third of the collection) cookbook, The Relation Between Us. The title is crucial to understanding what is inside these pages. Bech has decided that his third cookbook should focus on more than what is on the plate.
The Relation Between Us is a guide from a passionate chef to the path of food before arriving on the plate. A visual feast, this book is for anyone who loves food, from the home cook who wants to know more about cooking fast and easy, to a professional chef open to new realms. From a dangerously addictive recipe that might give you a few extra kilos, to a bourbon-laced barbecue sauce and a liver pâté with a secret ingredient that makes you go wild, Bech encourages the reader to master simple techniques, trust their instincts and have fun. This is a book from the heart about joy, love, life, and eating.
Some cookbook authors focus on teaching specific recipes they have developed, some others try to showcase detailed techniques, and yet another group wants their books to share their passion for food and life, through pictures, stories, and life lessons.
Bo Bech’s The Relation Between Us is the perfect symbiosis between all the above. This masterpiece is full of pictures taken by the chef himself on his travels around the globe – and these were plentiful. From a visit to Alain Passard’s Farm to the markets of St Petersburg (Russia), La Paz (Bolivia), or Tokyo (Japan), Bech takes you with him on a trip around the world. He doesn’t focus on the cities’ touristic view, but rather on their people, their stories, and the techniques they have to share.
He does not disregard or neglect any food detail he is shown, as long as it is memorable and pure, immersing everyone in the gastronomic worlds of the fanciest restaurants and the humblest houses. As shown below, Bo Bech beautifully parallels humble food from a very rural cooking technique to one of the most refined restaurants.
“Now add the butter one cube at a time while continuing whisking. Congratulations. You just made the best lemon cream in the world.”
The recipes shared in this book are definitely not mainstream ones. Instead, the book includes very concise guides on how to approach certain foods, from mainstream ingredients, such as the humble lemon (we can verify that it is, indeed, the best lemon cream in the world) or rice (with a cooking technique that a rice-lover like us has never seen before), but it can also be the less common kombucha or a mezcal sauce.
Regardless, these recipes are intended to be followed with precision (also because they do contain quantity instructions), but mostly to be seen as ideas for one to look at the ingredient with an original approach. Definitely recommended.
Combining photo reportage, journal notes and recipes to inspire rather than dutifully follow, The Relation Between Us is a guide from a passionate chef about what happens before the food goes on the plate.
The Relation Between Us is a book about spontaneity, taking risks and experiencing the world through all your senses: tasting and smelling, touching and hearing, and, most of all, seeing. Spotting an ingredient, observing a ritual, seeing the bigger picture.
A book released in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, that has restricted traveling and discovering, is a very good alternative for a “stay at home world travel” through gastronomic hidden gems of all continents.
If this book were to be described in a sentence it would be the “Somebody Feed Phil” of books. It represents food as the main topic but it also embodies the influence that places and their people have on it.