Are bowls the new plates? With a spate of new cookbooks featuring bowl-inspired recipes coming to market, many publishers are banking on the increasing popularity of bowl dishes by offering up recipe collections that range from classic comfort to light and healthy.
Skyhorse senior editor Nicole Frail started seeking out a book on bowl dishes after noticing an uptick of smoothie bowls on Instagram. She put out a tweet with the hashtag #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List), to solicit proposals for a smoothie bowl cookbook, which is how she found Carissa Bonham's Beautiful Smoothie Bowls, due out May 2. “Carissa's book includes her own recipes, but also recipes contributed by thirty or so bloggers from around the world,” said Frail. “I think that really shows the reach of the smoothie bowl.”
For Frail, the lure of bowls is all about comfort. “In my mind, bowls are traditionally vessels for comfort foods,” said Frail. “Soups, chili, pasta, ice cream—we're drawn to them because of what we're used to eating in them in.”
Paul McNally, publisher at Smith Street, also acknowledged the recent proliferation of bowl dishes on social media. “Wholesome bowls have been all over Instagram, highlighting their strong appeal.” McNally, who will be releasing Breakfast Bowls by Caroline Griffiths on February 7, also attributed the draw of these recipes to the informal, homey style of foods so frequently eaten out of bowls. “Readers are looking for simple, comforting food, as a movement of sorts away from the high-end chef-style cookbooks that have dominated the market for many years,” said McNally.
Like other publishers, the editors at Hardie Grant’s Quadrille saw bowls “cropping up constantly on our Instagram feeds,” said Sarah Lavelle, Quadrille's publishing director. Quadrille enlisted a chef to produce the recipes for the in-house project, Nourish Bowls, which will hit shelves on March 7. Lavelle echoed the sentiment that food eaten out of bowls have “connotations of childhood, warmth and comfort,” but also discussed another recent influence.
“Now that Asian dishes like pho, ramen, and so on, have entered the mainstream, people are so much more used to eating out of a bowl,” she said.
Chronicle’s Sarah Billingsley, editor of Molly Watson’s forthcoming Bowls!, pointed again to the comfort factor. “Americans have been casual eaters for decades,” said Billingsley. “There is simply something so comforting about eating out of a bowl.”
Billingsley also noted that bowls are especially good on-the-go, and may even do better than the traditional portable meal: the sandwich. One of her favorites from Bowls! Is a twist on a deli classic, the Reuben.