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Cookbooks we love for all the wrong reasons, like starter boyfriends…we all need to make our mistakes sometime. What cookbooks did you buy when you were 20? And better yet…do you still have them? [I bet you do!]
Read my Eat Your Books post on first-love cookbooks.
The first week of every January, I have an enviable problem–a problem of abundance in every way. Holiday roundups are over, and after a week of bingeing on festive food I need to get back on my treadmill, which kept getting covered in books throughout December. It’s time for cookbook cleanup!
Only problem is, somewhere between 200 and 300 books came in over the fall, and I want to keep them ALL. But my bookshelves are already full. It’s time for some ruthless winnowing. Heartbreaking, but there you have it.
This morning I rolled up my sleeves and hit the “Single-Subject” section of my library. Do I really need 4 books on pasta? 8 books on meat cookery (and even more than that on seafood)? Agonizing over every one, I part with a book here, a book there. So long to the matched set of little gift cookbooks on Apples, Squash, and Tomatoes–so pretty, but not actually useful. So long to the fifth book just on soup. Adieu to the Very Ambitious Salad book and the hardbound edition of the seafood book I use in paperback. Farewell to the book on flavored butters–I think I can figure those out for myself. Goodbye, sort-of-disappointing stew book!
To tell the truth, the single-subject section is actually the easiest to winnow. Most of the books are not on my cookbook-indexing website, Eat Your Books, (an indexed book is harder to part with! ), and the quality is not as consistent or the depth of knowledge as great. The main virtue of a single-subject cookbook is that it makes it easy to look up, say, a blueberry recipe when blueberries are in season. But searchable databases make that so easy anyway…so a single-subject book has to have some other compelling virtue (say, thoroughness, or helpfulness) for me to keep it.
I’ll be moving on next to the Baking section, which–despite being the least used section of the library–accounts for the most calories I consume over the course of a year. But’s that’s OK. At least I can find my treadmill now.
New post at Eat Your Books on a prolific catch of seafood cookbooks. So far, most of the fish I’ve had this season has been freshwater–caught by our kids on fishing expeditions out back with our friend and neighbor, Uncle Bone. There’s nothing quite like fresh fish–but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t go for a fresh lobster roll, or a nice cool ceviche, or maybe even a clambake or two.
Uncharacteristically, I can’t seem to decide if I like this book or not–so much so that I wrote a long blog post about it at Eat Your Books. I am put in mind, ridiculously, of one of my daughter’s favorite books–The Good Little Bad Little Pig. It’s a great book–the one about the pig, I mean. As to the cookbook, I just can’t make up my mind.
Some thoughts on “how books” at eatyourbooks.com: i.e., food books with the attention-getting “how” subtitle. Today’s “how” ‘s? ”How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed our Most Alluring Fruit” and “How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on forty dollars a week)”. Read the post here.
I don’t know about you, but I just cannot resist a Southern cookbook. It doesn’t matter that I already have 33 recipes for buttermilk biscuits (that’s an actual fact–I checked on my eatyourbooks database). I always need one more.
I guess “Southeast Asian” and “Spanish” are going to have squeeze a bit and make some more room–again–on my regional/ethnic cookbook shelf. They’re not going to be happy about it…