It’s a quandry. You want to entice readers to make your recipes, but you don’t want to just hit them over the head with sales pitches.
Fortunately, there are more subtle ways to attract people to a recipe. Here are five methods cookbook authors use to draw in readers:
1. Make them salivate. Describe the food and how it’s cooked so readers can not only imaging tasting it, but they see it, smell it, hear it, even imagine touching it. Here’s a headnote for South Indian-Style Eggplant Pickle, from Cradle of Flavor by Saveur Editor-in-Chief James Oseland that gets the senses going:
“This south Indian-style pickle is popular in Malaysian kitchens, although the sugar in it is a decidedly Malaysian addition. Similar to caponata, the Sicilian eggplant relish, it’s made of chunks of Japanese eggplants in a lavishly spiced sweet-sour pickling base. Coriander, fennel, cumin, chiles, ginger, and cinnamon all vie for dominance, creating a lush layering of flavors. The eggplants are fried and then put in the pickling base, rather than cooked in it. Japanese eggplants, which are commonly used in Malaysian cuisine, cook quickly, so frying them first give you more control, ensuring that they won’t come out mushy.”
Notice his evocative description, so specific that you can almost taste the eggplant. He assumes you may not know caponata, so he describes it too. Then he tells you how to cook the dish, so you can