Thursday, 14 August 2008

Actually Yummy German Cookbook

I hope I didn't offend any vegetarian sensibilities with that last posting - I tried to leave out the most unsavoury raw meat dishes. To make up for it, I'd like to recommend two absolutely gorgeous cookbooks from Berlin.

You'll laugh actually, because they're books about American-style cooking. The first, which I have tested liberally, is Cynthia Barcomi's Backbuch. It's about cake. If you're feeling a bit peckish, follow the link and flick through the sample pages on the publisher's website. Mmmmm. Full of mouth-watering photos (although rather heavy on the "this is me in my café, this is me buying fruit, this is me baking with my daughter" shots), even fuller of mouth-watering recipes.

I have personally made various cakes of assorted sizes out of the book, one of which (cherry almond bread) was officially approved by a large group of Americans at an end-of-year get-together. The carrot cake is also a legend in its own very short lifetime. My only practical advice is, ignore her frosting instructions unless your teeth are made of asbestos. There is no actual need to use a kilo of icing sugar for twelve cupcakes.

The second book, I've just realised, isn't out just yet. It's Cynthia Barcomi's Kochbuch für Feste. You'll notice Ms Barcomi is dolled up a bit more on the cover of this one, because it's party food. I just know I'm going to have to order it. It may even save my social life.

Cynthia Barcomi, by the way, is an American who runs a couple of cafés in Berlin and a catering business. Ooh, look, there's a live webcam from one of them here. It all looks a bit dark right now, but it's rather scary to think that millions of people can watch you pick alfalfa sprouts out of your teeth on a Friday morning. I'll wave next time I'm there.

But why am I plugging a German book about American cooking? Well sadly, the Germans are only gradually starting to get good at cookbooks. Many of them are translated out of English or other languages, and the market seems to be led by UK trends. Even Germany's top young celebrity chef trained under Jamie Oliver. And then there's the problem that a lot of German cooking, at least here in the East of the country, is rather stodgy (see below). So I don't really keep an eye out for great German cookbooks. Cynthia Barcomi's smasher simply caught my eye because I was already familiar with her food... and I didn't regret it.


Casa di Paradiso said...

I am looking to by Ms. Barcomi's cookbooks for my Berlin-living American sister....but I can't tell if they are written in English or German. What has been your experience?
I am assuming that the ingredients in the books are easy to aquire in Berlin..that has been her problem with her old american cookbooks...
thanks for any help!

kjd said...

Hi, the books are in German, and the recipes are adapted to use only ingredients you can get in Germany.