Sunday, June 14, 2009

Affection for My Cookbooks

I have great affection for my cookbooks for any one of a number of reasons. Here are just a few:

I love to read them and imagine the flavors of the recipes.

I love the personality of the writer that comes through in the books.

I love that they provide me with an incredible wealth of ideas that I could never come up with on my own, especially about ethnic cuisines, like Persian.

I love how beautiful some of them are and I love the gorgeous photographs, misleading as they may be.

I love to “test” a new cookbook to see if the recipes are accurate, well-conceived, and well-written. I watch out for egregious errors: 2T for 2t, for example, can cause serious damage if the ingredient is salt, chipotle chili pepper, or baking powder. But I also watch for excitingly new combinations and methods. The end result of the testing is, of course, a nice meal. Yum. Yum.

I love that they are artifacts and reflections of the culture of which I am a part. Joy of Cooking from the 50s is different from Joy of Cooking in 00s. Food fads come and go like skirt lengths. Now we’re back to fondue.

I love that over time they provide a history of my cooking experiences. Notes I have written in them over the years tell me what I fixed for Thanksgiving dinner in 1994 or how my sons, Franz and Ben, now grown, reacted to a new dish (“Yuck”), or how I changed the recipe to fix it or to suit my taste.

Do you love your cookbooks? I would love to know the ways.


Jelizpars said...

I love my cookbooks as well. If I have time, I take a night a week to pick a few to scan for what I might cook during the week. It's fun finding new recipes from old faves like Jane Brody and Deborah Madison. I also keep a looseleaf notebook of favorites I've printed out from or I'm constantly printing out new ones every week, so it's nice to look at them again and plan some simple feasts for my family. The really old ones like Vegitarian Epicure and Diet and Recipes for a Small Planet are a kick to look at and remember when I used to cook with the partners I had in the 70's!

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking that mom needs to write a comment as I have never known anyone who loves her cookbooks more! Love your blog and can't wait to try some of your recipes when we get back from The Netherlands.
Love, Sibyl

Linda said...

I confess that I like the theory and the elegance - beautiful pictures are a plus too... of cookbooks more than the reality...I am literally, figuragively and constitutionally unable to follow a recipe...I start with the best of intentions and before I have finihed preparing the dish something always forces me to vary or change some aspect... often in a way that is hard to remember when I repeat the dish... sometimes the effects are just fine...other times I am glad that I have a very tolerant family...That is why I'm ultimately better off in the garden than in the kitchen... but I confess I'll try again with the ragout which sounds delicious...


Anonymous said...

As a gift for being in a wedding, my brother was given a 1000 recipe Chinese cookbook and a wok. He wasn't a cook at the time and let me borrow them until he needed them. The only requirement was that I make comments on recipes I tried.

I was a new cook and curried chicken sounded great. The recipe was simple--coat chicken in curry powder and saute. It was HORRIBLE! Hot and not much else. My husband wrote in the book, "There is no joy in eating this."
Susan Mark Landis