Tacos: Recipes and Provocations, by Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman, (Clarkson Potter), 240 pages, release date 20 October, 2015

Tacos is absolutely gorgeous, one of those cookbooks that’s also an art book, the kind of volume you want to pet (great cover texture!) and wander through, while losing track of time. The pretty starts right on the flyleaves, which feature a checkerboard layout of salsa photos: orange, green, red, brown, yellow.

This book may tell you waaay more than you need to know about tacos, but need is irrelevant. You’ll want to take in all the details. You’ll learn about essential spices, molcajetes for grinding ingredients, how to make nixtamal (whole kernel corn boiled with pickling lime, which is ground into masa, the cornmeal from which tortillas are made). The authors will introduce you to “neo-traditional” tortilla possibilities (saffron, buckwheat, pistachio). The chapter on salsas features the biggest range of such recipes I’ve ever found.

The taco section begins with the expected—chicken, pork, and beef—but then moves on to things like tripe, sea urchin, goat, and egg tacos. Some of these are a bit more “interesting” than I want (I’ve eaten sea urchin; I just don’t like it), but you’ll find your mouth watering as you consider the savory possibilities.

If you know any cooks who enjoy a craftsperson approach, this would make a wonderful gift book. It can get dreamed over—but it will also get plenty of real use.

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