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Tagged: talking cookbooks

I’ve never been much of a joiner, but when it comes to talking cookbooks, no arm-twisting is necessary. And anyway, I’ve been tagged—not once, not twice, but three times—to answer a few questions about my cookbook collection. The peer pressure is overwhelming. Everyone else is doing it, so I will too.

1. Total number of cookbooks I own:
Thirty-five. That actually seems a bit measly, given how much I love the things. I need to improve my average.

2. Last (cook)book(s) I bought:
I was recently in a bookstore that had an extensive used-cookbook section, and for a grand total of sixteen dollars, I walked away with the following three hardcover steals:

Saveur Cooks Authentic American: I’d been wanting this one for a long time. Sister to Saveur Cooks Authentic Italian and Saveur Cooks Authentic French (both of which I’m still lusting after), this big, solid beauty is nothing short of drool-worthy, full of luscious photos and transportive stories, not to mention wonderful-sounding recipes. This is one to sit down and read.

Diana Kennedy's The Tortilla Cookbook: The doyenne of Mexican cooking speaks on the simplest of staples. And dear reader, I love a good tortilla.

Martha Stewart's Menus for Entertaining: Say what you will, but I can’t knock Martha. She may be a bit stiff and stuffy, but she does a damn fine party. I’m especially interested in the menu for her spicy Thai lunch.

[And if I have a say in it, my next acquisitions will be one of Bill Granger’s cookbooks—his recipes feel so clean and inviting—and something Nigella. I find her style a bit heavy on the flirting and finger-licking, but her dishes are straight-up sexy for their honesty and simplicity.]

3. Last (food) book I read:

Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires: I was given a proofreader’s copy of this by a friend who’d gotten it from another friend at Penguin, and it was a perfect few-pages-before-bedtime read. Reichl’s prose, as always, is a pleasure; it just feels so effortless. And the recipes are enticing—not simply something to be skimmed over on the way to the next chapter. I have to admit, however, to feeling iffy about her blunt barbs at her New York Times colleagues; on the one hand, I found myself inspired by her courage in “telling it like it is,” and on the other, I also found her unappealingly catty.

4. Five (cook)books that mean a lot to me:

-Julia Child’s The Way to Cook: It should already be clear from the subtitle of this site, but I adore this woman. Not only was she a tremendous cook, but her lust for life was contagious. Plus, the soufflé recipe in this book made me feel like I could conquer the world. [Thanks to Mom and Burg for letting me steal one of their two copies.]

-Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse Vegetables: One of my favorite resource books, conveniently organized by vegetable. True to classic Chez Panisse style, it suggests graceful, simple, seasonal treatments with a French-Italian bent. [Thanks to my half-sister Lisa for putting this, some fresh fava beans, and some fresh shell peas into my hands one summer afternoon.]

-Janet Fletcher’s Fresh from the Farmers' Market: A pretty little book, and another great resource. Organized by season, it offers hints for buying and storing fruits and vegetables, and its recipes are simple, fresh, and hunger-inducing. [Thanks to Carey for this and other Chronicle Books Christmas presents.]

-Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets: Two words: “Paris” and “sweets.” I’ve been to many of the boulangeries and pâtisseries that Greenspan features, so for me, this book is like a travel journal in recipes. Plus, her descriptions are always evocative and whimsical, yet straightforward. And oh, that pain de Gênes! [Thanks again to Lisa, who clearly has impeccable taste in cookbooks.]

-And finally, my accordion file folder. It’s not technically a cookbook, but rather a bulging collection of recipe clippings and scribbled ingredients lists, from entire Gourmet holiday menus to James Beard’s pesto recipe on a dog-eared index card. I reach for it more than any single cookbook, and that must count for something.

5. Which 5 people would you most like to see answer these questions?
I’ll be nice. No peer pressure. But everyone else is doing it, you know.


Blogger nosheteria said...

Hi Molly,

I just found a hardly used copy of Bill's Open Kitchen at Moe's (do you know Moe's, the greatest bookstore ever!). Talk about food porn, it's truly lovely. I have yet to try out many recipes from it, but I have definitely looked through it plenty.


10:06 PM, June 23, 2005  
Blogger Michèle said...

Hi Molly,
Nice $16 score! Im impressed. I have heard nothing but good things about Chez Panisse, I think I may keep an eye out for it. Thanks for playing along :)

11:29 PM, June 23, 2005  
Blogger Compmouse said...

I don't know if you're into making food into fun things like I am, but I just bought this book called The Secret Life of Food that has some absolutely adorable food ideas for parties.

6:35 AM, June 24, 2005  
Blogger k. said...

hello molly!
i love ruth's book... such a lovely read! and bill granger's cookbooks are WONDERFUL! i cannot recommend them enough. i've tried many of his recipes and have yet to be disappointed...all of them are simple to make and big on flavor.

8:22 AM, June 24, 2005  
Blogger margrocks said...

something about the brits cookbooks. don't know what it is. i love all nigella, donna hay, and nigel slater books. when i was in yorkshire in november, i found HOW TO EAT for 2 pounds at the local thrift store. SCORE.

in the london bookstores, i wanted to BUY THEM ALL. i think a trail of saliva followed me out of the bookstore. can't explain why i find them superior to most american cookbooks, perhaps the Brits just so grateful that they've awoken from the culinary Dark Ages, they tend "do it up right."

[now that i think about it, donna hay is australian, but whatever...my point still stands. love the brits' (and their descendants') culinary tomes.]

my standbys...joy of cooking, angelica's kitchen cookbook (best damn vegan cornbread you'll ever eat), my mom's brown tupperware recipe box filled with tons of casserole and cookie recipes, and MY binder w/ all my clippings + whatnot.

2:43 PM, June 24, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Adrienne, I'm jealous! You'll have to keep me posted as you try out various recipes--and in the meantime, I'm going to find out more about this Moe's place...

Michele, I think you'd like the Chez Panisse books. If nothing else, they're very inspiring!

Compmouse, I think I've heard of The Secret Life of Food. I'll be sure to look for it the next time I'm in a bookstore.

And k., thanks for the Bill Granger testimonial! Looks like another cookbook purchase is coming soon...

And margrocks, I know exactly what you mean. I think part of the Brit-cookbook thing is design--they're all so beautiful, visually! Plus, the foods and dishes are spot-on, just the sort of thing we seem to be craving these days. And as for The Joy of Cooking, it's one of my standbys too. And I've had the Angelica Kitchen cornbread in the restaurant itself--damn fine indeed!

5:07 PM, June 24, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Saveur series of books are all for sale at Costco...for $9.00 each.

2:50 PM, June 25, 2005  
Blogger Miss Tenacity said...

You are right on about Martha. I picked up her Hors Dourves book - excellent techniques in there.



10:01 AM, June 26, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Oooh, Anonymous, thanks for the hot tip! It's almost enough to make me buy a CostCo membership. Tempting...

And Andrea, I knew you'd have
good taste in cookbooks. My parents have that hors d'oeuvres book, and it has a wonderful recipe for little salmon bites dipped in Indian-ish spices and quickly seared. So delicious!

10:25 AM, June 26, 2005  
Anonymous sue said...

At Recollection Books in Seattle, they have a copy of Roy Andries deGroot's "Auberge of the Flowering Hearth" which while not a cookbook, is such good writing and reading. If you haven't read it, see if they'll let you take a look. (they list it for $100.)I read a copy from my podunk local library back in the earlly 70's and it made me rethink my brown- rice-and-steamed-veggies routine for good!

and thanks for the maccaroon recipe. We have a local bakery that makes them and they are my favorite decadent treat. The crunchier on the outside the better, and oh-lala the chocolat!
(swoon, swoon)

10:07 AM, June 28, 2005  
Blogger Culinary Fool said...

Hey Molly,
I could be bribed to pick up the Saveur books for you! I purchased a couple for myself a week or two ago. We can talk tomorrow night..

~ B

7:31 PM, June 28, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Sue, thanks for the heads-up on Auberge. I hadn't heard of it before, and it sounds very worthy of a look. And as for the macaroons, yes, swoon swoon!

And Culinary Fool, what a nice offer! We'll talk tonight, and in the meantime, I'll think up a good bribe to inspire you...

9:15 AM, June 29, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill's great but if you don't mind an aussie cookbook, you won't find a single kitchen in aus that doesn't have Stephanie Alexander's 'The cook's companion'.

12:59 AM, August 19, 2011  

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