"Bitter brims with luminous mini-essays on the science and philosophy of taste, and delivers dozens of straight-ahead recipes that teach us to tame and celebrate the most challenging of the five basic flavors"
— Tom Philpott
"McLagan has found a strong theme in Bitter. In this latest cookbook, McLagan’s recipes seem to say: this is exactly what I mean when I say ‘bitter.’ You scan them, with their slightly conservative edginess, and immediately you want to taste. . . . The recipes I tried were excellent. McLagan writes clearly and well, with the voice of a practiced cook."
— Art of Eating
"McLagan’s book strikes the perfect balance between essayistic exploration, lush photography and recipes."
— New York Times Book Review
The champion of uncelebrated foods including fat, offal, and bones, Jennifer McLagan turns her attention to a fascinating, underappreciated, and trending topic: bitterness.
What do coffee, IPA beer, dark chocolate, and radicchio all have in common? They’re bitter. In this deep and fascinating exploration of bitter through science, culture, history, and deliciously idiosyncratic recipes, award-winning author Jennifer McLagan makes a case for this misunderstood flavor. Biologically-speaking, the taste of something bitter—unlike sweet, which can indicate a nutrient-rich food, and salty, which indicates the presence of needed minerals—can signify a poison, so an appreciation for bitterness must develop with age and experience. Bitter is a known appetite stimulant and is often just the thing to add dimension and balance to a dish. While some culinary cultures, such as in Italy and parts of Asia, have an inherent appreciation for bitter flavors (think Campari and Chinese bitter melon), little attention has been given to bitterness in North America: we’re much more likely to reach for salty or sweet. However, even in North America, bitter is making inroads with increased interest in cocktail bitters, craft beers, and artisanal coffee; and consumption of bitter salad greens and chocolate is growing. In the capable hands of McLagan, bitterness will emerge from the shadows of the culinary underworld and get its deserved place in the spotlight