My bookshelf is bursting with cookbooks and food memoirs (we are talking three digits) and each time I get a new one I am asked why do you need so many cookbooks or food memoirs? You may like to call it a fetish or a weakness but I prefer the word enthusiast 🙂
Some I like to cook from, some I open for inspiration and some make for great bedtime reads. Over the years I’ve made a little bond of sorts with some of them and some I’ve just had a casual fling with. Having said that, each time I sit down with one of my books I instantly get transported to the authors’ kitchens close and far. Unfamiliar cuisines, new ingredients, stories behind each of the recipes, new cooking techniques…it like getting a glimpse of their lives and diving into their hearts.
I can’t recall the exact moment when I fell in love with the idea of spending my entire life (and money:)) with cookbooks and food memoirs but I clearly remember flipping through my mum’s very fancy cake book each day after school (it is important that I mention that we never baked anything from there for it had the most complicated five tier wedding cakes but oh my it was so pretty) and copying recipes from the food sections of the magazines that she would rent from the local library; in her diary that she still maintains.
Over the last few years, I kept running into friends who felt the same and since it was clear that none of us had any intentions of exercising any kind of self-restraint we decided to celebrate this addiction instead.
Without further ado, I present to you; From Words To Wok.What is From Words To Wok?
From Words to Wok is an online community of cookbook and food memoir enthusiasts. We are people who have a huge collection of cookbooks and don’t know how to stop adding more to our book shelves. Since we don’t have any intentions of controlling this habit we decided to do the next best thing: become a part of this group where we can legitimize this kind of behavior. Because when you are a part of this group you will need to review books and that means heading to the nearest bookstore (borrowing from a library or friend works too but hey who are we fooling, really?)
How can I become a part of this group?
If you adore cookbooks and food memoirs as much as we do, you are going to love your time here. To become a member you just need to commit to reviewing one book every two months. Join us here.
Can I invite other members?
Yes. If you have friends and family who, like us, are equally passionate about cookbooks then please drop us a message so we can send them an invite.
If I do decide to join the group, are there any rules that I need to follow?
Not really, except that we only discuss the book in focus and review at least five out of the six books chosen for the year. Also we’d love to share the link to your blog and/or social media links with the other members of the group so request you to please drop us a message so we can add that to our directory.
How are the cookbooks/food memoirs selected?
Since shortlisting books was really becoming a huge task after several discussions with some of the members who showed interest in joining this community in its initial stages we decided to stick to the finalists of the Piglet Awards each year. The Piglet inspired by The Morning News’ Tournament of Books is where the 16 most notable cookbooks of the year face off. Read more about it here.
What are the books that we’ll be reviewing this year?
Our year will be from March’16- February’17 and since we will be reviewing one book every two months we will be reviewing six books every year. Members will vote and the six that get the most votes (from the 16 Piglet finalists) will be the ones we will be reading this year.
The 16 finalists for 2016 are:
- A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry
- A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield and J.J. Goode
- Eat Mexico by Lesley Téllez
- Gjelina by Travis Lett
- Made in India by Meera Sodha
- Mamushka by Olia Hercules
- Modern Jewish Cooking by Leah Koenig
- My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl
- Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel by Heidi Swanson
- Senegal by Pierre Thiam and Jennifer Sit
- Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady
- The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji López-Alt
- The Food of Oman by Felicia Campbell
- The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez and Julia Turshen
- The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak
- Zahav by Michael Solomonov
How can I suggest a cookbook/food memoir?
For now, we will be picking books from the 2016 Piglet Awards Finalists but please drop us a message if you have a suggestion and we can run it past the entire community so members can vote.
What do I need to do to review the book?
Read the book from cover and try out recipes across courses so you can evaluate if the author delivers on her/his promise.
How many recipes do I need to try from the book for the review?
At least 4-5 (across courses).
Do I need to photograph the recipes as well?
No. But it is always lovely to click some and share. It will help inspire the others who are struggling with the recipes or time or both.
Do I need to buy the book to conduct the review?
No. Please feel free to borrow from a library or a friend. A lot of authors also share some of the recipes from their books online; so you can also look for those if you don’t want to buy the book or pool in with a couple of friends and share the book.
Can I post the review on my personal blog?
Yes, please. We’d love that! Just remember to share the links in the group here so we can all read and learn from your experiences. The intention is to have albums for each of the books where we can all share snaps and links to our individual reviews.
Can I join if I don’t have a blog?
Yes, of course!
How can I share my review if I don’t have a blog?
You can share your reviews on your personal Facebook account as a note and share the link with us in the album for that particular book.
When will new book be announced?
1st of every alternate month after which we will have two months to read, savour and review the book.
If I join in the middle of the reviewing cycle can I still participate?
Is this only an online community?
No, we’d love you to organize meet ups in your city to discuss the book. You may choose to simply share your review over coffee or each member may decide to cook and take a dish from the book but whatever you do we’d love to know about it so please share it with all of us in the group. At Dubai, we’d be organizing meetups at the new branch of Book Munch at Bay Square (opening soon). So if you are in Dubai or passing by please let us know we’d love to have you over. Dareen is creating a cookbook heaven at this branch and has been very encouraging and supporting. We can’t wait to have our first meet up (hopefully really soon).
Are these competitions?
Will there be any contests or any surprises?
Yes, expect some occasional surprises and contests.
If you have any more questions please leave me a comment.
Looking forward to this year of reading and cooking with all of you.