Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Part II: My Cookbook Spreadsheet

How do I know that I didn’t cook French and ate a lot of Middle Eastern, you might ask?

Because I kept a list. At the beginning of 2009 I made a spreadsheet of about half of my cookbooks. I sorted the cookbooks into 29 categories, mostly by country or region. Every night after dinner when I wrote down what I ate in my little notebook, I would jot down on the spreadsheet the date next to the cookbooks I had used. At the end of this last year, I looked over the sheets to see if anything interesting showed up. It did—but maybe only interesting to me. You be the judge.

Turns out I cooked from 104 cookbooks in 2009, 39 of which I used for the first time, another way of saying that I acquired 39 new or used cookbooks. I prepared 202 recipes from these 104 cookbooks.
As I mentioned above, I cooked a lot of food from around the Middle East. Here are the numbers in terms of recipes: Middle Eastern (20), Turkish (2), Moroccan/Spanish (13), Persian (2) and Mediterranean (8). These flavor-related regions account for 45 recipes (22 percent of the recipes I used in 2009). I also used 33 recipes from cookbooks of the American West Coast (where I live) and 23 recipes from vegetarian and healthy cookbooks. Miscellaneous others: Indian (12), International (9), Italian (9), Mexican and Latin (7), and British (11).

The prize for the most used cookbook goes to Flatbreads and Flavors by Alford and Duguid. Eight times. I really do like that cookbook; it is simple and inviting. But I can’t say that it is my very favorite, even though I used it more than any other. Truth is, I can’t even imagine choosing a favorite—too reminiscent of Sophie’s Choice. I cooked from Sam and Sam Clark’s Casa Moro seven times. John Ash’s From the Earth to the Table and Niloufer Ichaporia King’s My Bombay Kitchen both came in at six. The Food of Israel Today, The Arab Table (both mentioned above) and Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking all came in at five.

I should mention that three recipe sources don’t show up in this calculation: 1) the recipes I was testing for this blog (about 84), 2) those I make up on the spot which I call “my own devising”, and 3) those which I find in newspapers, on the internet or in my handwritten notebooks or are given by friends. I might add these to this year’s list which now includes all my cookbooks (523).

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