In 2003, San Francisco–based photographer Heidi Swanson launched 101 Cookbooks, a blog she hoped would motivate her to make new recipes, as opposed to merely amassing cookbooks fated to languish on her shelf, nary a splatter on any page. It is an amusing turn of fate, then, that the success of 101 Cookbooks (a digital pioneer in the realm of sophisticated, vegetarian health food—think yogurt, almond butter, and quinoa before they were de rigueur) has led Swanson into cookbook authorship herself. Her fourth book, entitled Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel, is new from Ten Speed Press as of this month. Rooted in place and organized correspondingly, Near & Far is comprised of two halves, with recipes inspired by either Swanson’s native Northern California or her beloved locales of Morocco, France, India, Italy, and Japan (an intervening sub-section includes recipes for portable meals to carry en route). Whether they take after the shōjin ryōri style cooking of Japanese Zen Buddhist monasteries or hinge on the dark leafy greens cherished by denizens of the West Coast, recipes focus on seasonality, whole foods, and health. Swanson’s voice lends an elevated tone throughout (“luxurious saffron broth” is “dimpled with olive oil” in a fennel stew) and the photography is rustic-chic minimalism. Too worldly to be relegated to a shelf, this collection of recipes is a journey unto itself.
September 24, 2015