Maybe, like the Accidental Locavore, you have a copy of Julia Child’s The Way to Cook. Possibly, when you got it, you marveled at the size and heft of it (5.4 lbs). Well, like the average American waistline, the average American, French, or Moroccan cookbook is quickly expanding.
I was at the Beard House again this week, listening to Paula Wolfort reading from her new book, The Food of Morocco (4.6 lbs) and quickly decided I needed to add it to the collection. Later that day, it ended up on the coffee table with Dorrie Greenspan’s Around My French Table (5 lbs), The Way to Cook and Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie (2 lbs, but his new book is almost twice that). Since the Locavore has always thought The Way to Cook was a massive book, I was surprised to see that they were all about the same size and weight.
Now, I don’t know about you, but the Accidental Locavore is very conflicted about cookbooks on e-readers. I use my iPad a lot in the kitchen, so putting cookbooks on it would make sense, but there are a couple of drawbacks to it. First of all, I hate the idea of paying for books twice. I’ve always wished you could pay a (small) surcharge and access recipes through a smartphone so you could access recipes when you need inspiration in the market. Secondly, there’s the mess factor. It’s one thing to drip on a cookbook and most people proudly point to the much- stained pages of favorite recipes, but dripping on an iPad can be an expensive mistake. Finally and least importantly there’s no place to sign an e-reader…
On the plus side, my iPad is much smaller and lighter (1.33 lbs), can hold all of these monsters without gaining an ounce (boy, wouldn’t that be a great quality in people?) and they can be used anywhere, at any time. However, while you can just open a book on a counter and it’s always there to consult, the iPad (to save battery life) only stays on for a couple of minutes and then has to have sticky fingers slide it on and punch in a password. Kind of a pain when you just want to double-check something.
So what I do is switch back and forth. Some stuff is on my iPad and some stuff is in books. With the books, I’m limited to the ones I have with me, but I can make a mess and not worry. Electronically, there is no limit but a degree of caution (and a fairly clean finger) has to be maintained. What do you do? Are you committed to one format over another? Or do you switch between paper and microchips? And what’s wrong with a slim (well-edited) volume?