I'd never heard of Jeffrey Steingarten until we picked his book as November's book of the month over at This Book Makes Me Cook. It Must've Been Something I Ate is a witty, very well written and immensely enjoyable collection of essays on food. Although I rarely read non-fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. And there are three reasons you should read it too.
1. Steingarten seeks to burst the myths and fads about food. He takes it upon himself to educate misguided folks against their fear of cheese or MSG. What he says may or may not be true but I am with him on one thing : diet fads change every day and nothing in moderation could be that bad for you!
2. He doesn't believe in letting go. Once he gets hold of the idea, be it about proving the difference between salts or making blood sausages, he will sashay around the world until he gets to the bottom of it. His accounts are often hilarious and I can imagine the sheer number of people he will be irritating trying to run his little experiments, but they make for a wonderful read.
3. His enthusiasm, whether he's looking for the best sushi tuna, the perfect pizza or that elusive baguette in Paris, is infectious. I couldn't imagine anyone else lining up 14 espresso machines on their dining tables, blowing up every fuse in the house, just so they could find the easiest way to get good coffee.
And there's a bonus reason too. Steingarten hob nobs with the best in the food industry. And if it wasn't impressive enough that he is buddies with Herve This, or on first name basis with Alain Ducasse, he then produces a hot chocolate recipe from Pierre Herme himself. This is the recipe I set to make for the book club this month.
To make a cup of most sinful hot chocolate ever, bring 150 ml milk, 2 tbsp water and a tbsp of caster sugar to a boil over medium heat. Add a tbsp of cocoa powder and 25 grams chopped (70%) dark chocolate. Reduce the heat to very low and whisk until the chocolate is well blended and the milk comes back to a boil. Whirl the chocolate in a blender until thick and foamy (or whisk with a hand blender).
Where he used Valrhona, I had to make do with Hershey's extra dark cocoa powder and Callebaut chocolate. The Chocolate Chaud was no less delicious though, so do give it a try.