Bitter: A Taste of the World's Most Dangerous Flavor, with Recipes (Hardcover)

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Whenever I see my copy of McLagan's Bitter on my kitchen counter, I can't help but leaf through its pages and be glad I stumbled across this cookbook. Bitterness as a flavor makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but McLagan's engaging writing and the eerily beautiful food photography it's paired with show that bitter flavors have the power to take cooking and baking to the next level.  

— From Alex


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. 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, with a surge in the popularity of craft beers; dark chocolate; coffee; greens like arugula, dandelion, radicchio, and frisée; high-quality olive oil; and cocktails made with Campari and absinthe—all foods and drinks with elements of bitterness—bitter is finally getting its due. 

In this deep and fascinating exploration of bitter through science, culture, history, and 100 deliciously idiosyncratic recipes—like Cardoon Beef Tagine, White Asparagus with Blood Orange Sauce, and Campari Granita—award-winning author Jennifer McLagan makes a case for this misunderstood flavor and explains how adding a touch of bitter to a dish creates an exciting taste dimension that will bring your cooking to life.

About the Author

JENNIFER McLAGAN is a chef and writer who has worked in Toronto, London, and Paris as well as her native Australia. She has been called courageous, a contrarian, and even a little crazy. She is definitely a provocative iconoclast who challenges us and makes us rethink our relationship to what we eat. Her award-winning books, Bones (2005), Fat (2008), and Odd Bits (2011), were widely acclaimed, and Fat was named Cookbook of the Year by the James Beard Foundation. Jennifer has presented at the highly prestigious Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival master class series, the Epicurean Classic in Michigan, the Terroir Symposium in Toronto, and the Slow Food University in Italy. Jennifer divides her time between Toronto and Paris. To learn more, visit

Praise For…

"Tobacco panna cotta? Gorgeous moody photos? This book flirts with the dark side and goes deep into the one taste often ignored."

"McLagan’s book strikes the perfect balance between essayistic exploration, lush photography and recipes.”
New York Times Book Review

“Jennifer McLagan serves as an enthusiastic evangelist and expert guide by demystifying the dark and dangerous flavors of all things bitter and inspiring readers to explore and embrace this often unappreciated taste—on the plate and in the glass.” 
—Brad Thomas Parsons, author of Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All

“McLagan’s book strikes the perfect balance between essayistic exploration, lush photography and recipes.”
New York Times Book Review
“Take a bow, Jennifer McLagan. With your newest book, Bitter, you’ve given foodists the chance to chew on a topic made for adults.”
—Washington Post
“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
“In her new cookbook, McLagan delves into this once underappreciated taste. The James Beard Award-winning author celebrates the flavor’s revival in a tome packed with awesome recipes.”
—Good Housekeeping
Product Details
ISBN: 9781607745167
ISBN-10: 160774516X
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: September 16th, 2014
Pages: 272
Language: English