If I could have only one cookbook, Andrew Dornenberg and Karen Page’s The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity would be it. During the year that I have owned this book, it has opened up so many avenues and allowed my creativity in the kitchen to blossom. The book is organized alphabetically by ingredient (also contains seasons and regional food categories), and under each ingredient are listed spices, herbs, meats, veggies, fruits, and other ingredients that pair well with your original, selected ingredient, with textural emphasis placed on more classic pairings.
The author gathered these pairings from the world’s best chefs, as well as rough recipe suggestions featured in many of the ingredients’ sections. This book is probably best suited for those with a little experience in the kitchen because the book is more of a source for creative inspiration and doesn’t dictate recipes; however, I do think a beginner cook could benefit from this book, especially if that person sees recipes as starting points for further creativity or seeks out “weird” vegetables or other ingredients and wants to figure out what goes well with them.
As for me, I use it as a quick reference guide when I find myself with excess amounts of one ingredient, either as the result of poorly planned grocery shopping or my Community Supported Agriculture organization supplying me with a box full of unfamiliar vegetables, or when I’m feeling adventurous and want to experiment with new ingredients.