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50 Foods: The Essentials of Good Taste Hardcover – October 31, 2013


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50 Foods: The Essentials of Good Taste + The Art of Eating Cookbook: Essential Recipes from the First 25 Years
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The; 10.1.2013 edition (October 31, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594204519
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594204517
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Compacting the world’s myriad foods to an inventory of just 50 may prove a formidable task. But Behr is up to the challenge and makes compelling and intelligent arguments for each of his selections. Beef, lamb, and veal appear, as do seafood and vegetables, such as green beans, and even condiments, such as vinegar. Rarely is any of the enumerated foods eaten on its own, so Behr appends items whose flavors don’t simply complement but also generate synergies enhancing each. Behr’s tastes are particular but not fussy, although some of his prescriptions, such as avoiding combining oysters with lemon juice, fly in the face of convention. Behr chooses the best wines, where appropriate, to accompany each item on his list. Some favored wines will be familiar to connoisseurs only, but plenty abound on the shelves of any decently stocked wine merchant. This is equally a reference text and a book for foodies to savor. --Mark Knoblauch

Review

The Wall Street Journal:
“In putting together 50 Foods, Mr. Behr has made use of his decades of interviewing farmers and wine producers and his travels in Europe and America. He has strong tastes and strong opinions, and his smart and evocative descriptions make for good reading. Stop at any entry, and he'll draw you in...it will be useful to both the novice and the conoisseur." 

Los Angeles Times:
“Great reading." 

The Minneapolis Star Tribune:
"For the reader who loves to burrow into a food book with as much enthusiasm as with a novel...It's a delightful book with beautiful design and clever illustrations from Mikel Jaso that will make you smile (at least I did)."

The Daily Beast:
"One ingredient at a time, Edward Behr will change the way you eat for the better....Behr is after something more fundamental and elusive. He is after good taste. He is after questions that have animated humans since we could eat—why things taste good; what tastes best together; why we eat certain things at certain times, and so on. That is why, unlike the dozen or so brilliant, useful, and enticing cookbooks published this year (see Heston Blumenthal, Fergus Henderson, Alice Waters, Le Pigeon, etc.), Behr’s book deserves your attention. In elegant, clear, and enthusiastic prose, he’s gives us the building blocks to think about food, to move beyond the recipes and understand why things taste good.”

The Atlantic:
"Each [entry] has soomething on buying and storing you can learn from, and an observation you might never have thought of but will make you nod in agreement."

The Austin Chronice:
"[Behr has] a quiet voice and unfussy style -- spare but rich, erudite yet straightforward. This is a book to dip into, to surprise and educate yourself. It engages both the brain and the palate, and you'll be newly inspired to enjoy and appreciate your food because of it."

Kirkus Reviews:
“A delicious compendium of food facts and practical advice showcasing 50 foods that everyday cooks, gardeners, foodies and the modern gourmet should include in their culinary repertoire…A treasure trove of culinary history, sound advice and easy enlightenment—though consuming the narrative in one sitting is not advised; try spreading the enjoyment by dipping in often for tasty bites."

Publishers Weekly:
"In his elegantly composed, alphabetically organized primer on the most tasty ingredients in good cooking, Behr, the founder of the Art of Eating magazine, shares useful ways of growing, choosing and pairing foods with other foods and, especially wines....The book is certainly a welcome resource for the home chef."
 
David Chang, New York Times bestselling author of Momofuku and chef/founder of Momofuku:
"Ed Behr is one of the great food writers, and this book may be his best work. Any book that increases culinary knowledge is must-have in my opinion... 50 Foods is a book that every chef and home cook should have."
 
Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, and author of What to Eat:
"Ed Behr’s 50 Foods extols the pleasures of his favorites from anchovies to walnuts, with plenty of handy advice about how to tell the difference between a great pear or cheese and one that’s not so great, and what wines make good foods taste even better. He knows the ins and outs of delicious food, and you will too after reading this book."

Dan Barber, Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns:
"50 Foods may take the shape of a culinary encyclopedia, but it is never encyclopedic in its approach. Instead, Edward Behr plays curator, selecting the best ingredients as his subjects (crab, blue; oysters, raw) and crafting descriptions at once evocative, educational, and eminently practical. You'll learn about the history of the baguette, but also (more importantly) how to predict its quality at the bakery. You'll brush up on the anatomy of an artichoke, then salivate over descriptions of them prepared alla giudia. It is, as Behr puts it, 'a guide to deliciousness'—a promise that he manages to deliver on, artfully."

Danny Meyer, New York Times bestselling author of Setting the Table:
"What a compelling and original gift Ed Behr has given food amateurs of every stripe with his brilliant canon, 50 Foods. The topics themselves are so thoughtfully curated, and the entries are authoritative, opinionated, and eminently useful whether one is a cook, eater, wine lover, or just wants to know and appreciate more than you ever did about 50 important foods."
 
René Redzepi, chef and co-owner of Noma, voted San Pellegrino Best Restaurant in the World, 2010, 2011, 2012:
"Smashing! This compelling book tells the story of 50 iconic foodstuffs, taking you around the world in search of deliciousness. To me, that's what’s especially captivating here. Deliciousness is one of the things that makes life fun and this book is full of just that."
 
Alice Waters, bestselling author, founder and Executive Chef, Chez Panisse:
"Ed Behr has a unique and holistic gastronomic vision, beautifully reflected in his examination of these 50 diverse foods that form the building blocks of taste. This fascinating, eminently readable book is a beautiful resource for curious cooks and people who want to know where their food comes from."
 
Harold McGee, New York Times bestselling author of the Keys to Good Cooking:
"Ever since I saw the first issue of his Art of Eating in 1986, I've admired Ed Behr for his scrupulous research and forthright judgments about food and drink. I'm always learning something new from him, even about the most familiar things, and especially when I disagree with him. This book is the fruit of Ed's decades-long pursuit of the best edibles that nature and western tradition have to offer. 50 Foods is his summa of the varieties of delicious experience, packed with useful information, a wonderfully concise source of both advice and provocation. If you know The Art of Eating you'll welcome this brisk tour; if you don't, 50 Foods will introduce you to one of the best guides a food lover could have."

More About the Author

Edward Behr is the editor and publisher of The Art of Eating, one of the most respected magazines about food and wine. Behr speaks internationally on food and culture and has been featured in publications ranging from The New York Times and The Atlantic to Forbes and The Financial Times. His writing and the magazine focus on taste, especially the connection between taste and the place food and wine come from.

Customer Reviews

So well written and informative.
Vermont Fan
Anyone interested in learning about the ingredients to exemplary cooking would do well to read this tome!
Darrell K. Crotz
I subscribe to his magazine for years and much enjoyed his articles.
Zeldie Stuart

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Hunter Angler Gardener Cook on December 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Every fall a tsunami of new books about food washes over us, but this year Ed Behr's "50 Foods" slashes through the clutter: It's a comprehensive guide to getting the best of whatever it is you seek: porcini, walnuts, cheeses, olive oil, etc. Now I consider myself pretty well versed on many of the foods Ed writes about, but even on these foods he taught me things I did not know -- for example, I had no idea that regular commercial walnut shells were bleached! Bottom line: If you want to use the best ingredients in your cooking and on your table, this is an invaluable guide.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Zeldie Stuart on December 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ed Behr is one of my favorite food writers. I subscribe to his magazine for years and much enjoyed his articles. This book is clear, concise, informative and entertaining to read. I like being able to open a book to any chapter and read which is very doable with this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Darrell K. Crotz on December 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Edward Behr has swung and knocked it out of the park. All manner of food considerations are presented, with the whys and wherefores!!

Anyone interested in learning about the ingredients to exemplary cooking would do well to read this tome!
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By pioneerdat on February 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mostly agree with the author's choices of the essential food items. He really gives somewhat detailed descriptions of the features that each item should have to make it good. Some items, like chocolate, could do with more detail since the taste is based more on terroir. Seems to be written with a similar vein of thought like "The Taste of America" by Coleman Andrews or the Saveur magazine Top 100 issue. Enjoyable read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Colleen on March 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
More Romance than Cookbook, Ed Behr has written beautifully about the 50 most influential foods in his world. We get history, laughter and wine pairings, what more could a girl want? Behr has found a way to make connoisseurs out of anyone, taking the elitism out of fine dining and making the finest foods in the world accessible to all of us. I enjoy the way the book is organized, alphabetically by food, each character gets their own chapter, you can read it in one sitting like I did, or morsel by morsel.
I am buying copies for everyone in my life who likes to eat.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. Bauer on December 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What I love about this book, in addition to its thoughtful and well researched prose, is that I can pick it up and open a page to anywhere, and read all about a favorite food in about fifteen minutes. I keep it by my bed so I can nibble on Ed's words, a chapter at a time, before drifting off to sleep. The result it that it will probably take me a while to get through the whole book, but my food inspired dreams are great!
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