A couple of weeks ago, the Accidental Locavore was talking about essential cookbooks. At that time I was thinking about them in terms of what a new cook would want, but what about the rest of us? Don’t you think it’s like movies–there are classics and then there are ones you can watch over and over? I would ask, if you were on a desert island what you would want, but there it would probably be a lot of BBQ books and 365 different ways to serve coconuts, right?
For the rest of us, location, time and space play a big part. Because of my farm-boxes, my country house has a lot more veggie-centric books than the city. Same for grilling and smoking. The biggest proof of essentialness might be owning more than one copy. Although each house has a copy of Gordon Hammersley’s Bistro Cooking, I’m not sure it’s essential (and the short ribs with Guiness and bacon is pretty much memorized). Rick Bayliss’s Mexican Everyday. There are a lot of great recipes in it and even better, they all can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. Julia, always Julia, for comfort if nothing else. And a basic, be it Mark Bittman, The Essential NY Times Cookbook (must be essential, it’s in the title) or the Joy of Cooking.
You might have noticed there’s no mention of anything Italian. It’s not that the Locavore is such a Francophile, I just don’t make that much Italian food and when I do, it’s mostly from memory. If I could find an essential Indian cookbook, that might go on the list, any suggestions? A Middle Eastern book could probably wrangle its way on, possibly Claudia Rodin’s A Book of Middle Eastern Food.
One of the members of our Blogging Boomers Carnival, Katie, had to make the ruthless choice when she and her husband moved to Dubai (almost a desert island). Here’s what she chose and why: “Workin’, More Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter – love the way he melds the tastes together to achieve the ultimate meal – but this is maybe not for the inexperienced cook. Some of the recipes are rather time-consuming and intricate but I think they are well-explained and not too much to do. The Best Ever Vegetarian Cookbook by Nicola Graimes – picked this up on the sale rack at Barnes & Noble years ago and swear by it. Almost every recipe is awesome! Eat More Weigh Less by Dean Ornish, MD – I inherited this from someone I can’t remember but I love the use of herbs to create delicious vegetarian meals. All the Best Pasta Sauces by Joie Warmer – a simple soft-cover book one of my daughters gave me because she didn’t want it. The VERY best sauces of all descriptions! Great Bowls of Fire by Jay Solomon – when we were first dating my then-future husband invited me to dinner to his house and proceeded to cook dinner – all in a microwave! When he later found out I had a reputation for being a fairly good cook, not to mention was once the owner of a very successful catering business, he was very chagrined! After we were married, I was surprised to find among his kitchen item this incredible book of amazing one pot meals from all over the world. They are really hot, spicy and delicious.”
But how much of this is a moot point? Do we even need cookbooks? Ah, that’s a blog for another day… Stay tuned!
And if you have any cookbooks you think are non-essential how about donating them to an incubator kitchen? Let me know and I’ll hook you up with the incubator.