It’s burger season! What makes the burger especially appealing is that it’s easy and intuitive: a seasoned patty on a bun with whatever additions and condiments strike one’s fancy, no recipe required. But with local markets overflowing with summer produce, it’s the perfect time to experiment with different additions and special flavors, and to learn some history about this simple, earnest fare.

Burger Lab: The Art and Science of the Perfect Burger
by Daniel Wilson
(Hardie Grant, 2017)

In a colorful, creative cookbook, burger restaurant owner Daniel Wilson presents burger elements and demonstrates how to get the chemistry exactly right to make the perfect patty. Constructions include combinations like a Wagyu cheeseburger deluxe; a Tonkatsu Pork Burger with Apple and Fennel Slaw; a Chickpea Burger with Tahini Yogurt; and a BBQ pulled pork bun with pickles. You’ll also find recipes for accompanying dishes, chips, and milkshakes. Condiments can elevate a burger from ordinary to special, and these do the job. They feature mayonnaise combinations like Green Peppercorn; Jalapeno and Thai Basil; and Bloody Mary mayo. Relishes include Tomato and Quince, Tomato Kasundi (an Indian relish made with mustard seeds, chilis, turmeric, cumin, and other spices) and other flavorful combinations.

The World is Your Burger: A Cultural History
by David Michaels
(Phaidon Press, 2017)

Phaidon Press publishes beautiful, high-quality art and culture books, including many lovely tomes on food and cooking. Besides conventional cookbooks, they also publish handsomely photographed food history books. This new offering, an ode to the hamburger, falls into the latter category. Including essays, photographs, interviews with culinary figures, archival photos from better known purveyors, and ephemera, the book offers a colorful look at the burger’s origins and influence. Includes 12 recipes. Perfect for the food curious seeking info about the origins of and cultural details related to the hamburger.

Edible East Bay’s book editor Kristina Sepetys is eager to share her ideas and book recommendations with our readers.