Cookbook releases often seem like movie releases these days. There's lots of anticipation, build up, and when the book comes out of the gate, it gets a big spike in attention. Then after a short spell, it's likely subsumed by the next wave of new books. That reality is contrary to an author's goal — to produce a publication that lasts and continues to contributes over time. The industry term for a classic work is “back list.” That means a publisher will keep your book around, that your toiling was not just a one time run throught the printing press.
I have the great fortune of writing about subjects that I really, really like. My publisher, Ten Speed Press, supports my projects and we craft beautiful books that we hope people will find interesting and useful for years. Into the Vietnamese Kitchen and Asian Dumplings were relatively easy to present since people have a sense of what to expect. Asian Tofu has been challenging because it’s a love-or-hate food that has long been misunderstood in the West.
What I wanted to do was tell tofu’s multifaceted story from the Asian perspective. It’s a fascinating story, but one that has to be slowly revealed; letting my tofu freak fly may be scary. For most readers, Asian Tofu offers a solid collection of recipes. I always incorporate big-picture elements into my work, history and personal stories, for example, to provide cultural context but am never quite sure how much those things matter to readers.