Lunchtime Reading

This is not doom-scrolling, but it is a wonderful exploration of…

The life-changing magic of cookbooks

I know everyone and their cat/dog/bird are baking sourdough bread, but there’s so much more going on in that stack of books you probably have.

For many people, cookbooks are a way to learn about history and culture, or a person. Sometimes they are a path to armchair travel, or a deep dive into a single subject or cuisine. For some, it is simply a teaching manual, while for others a work of art to be admired or aspired to. I have cookbooks that fit into each of these categories and some that refuse to fit into any. A good cookbook is one that engages me; I don’t have to even cook from it. The mark of a great cookbook is one that I enjoy reading and cooking from.

This article is a joy to read, so —dare I say it— savor it over lunch. I’m eying some of my books even now, thinking about Catalan Food in particular, or maybe Coastline. 

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14 Responses to Lunchtime Reading

  1. quakerinabasement says:

    Mangoes and Curry Leaves is a beautiful, visual exploration of traditional Indian foodl. See it here:


  2. Big Bad Bald Bastard says:

    I treasure my copy of Claudia Roden’s Book of Middle Eastern Food.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sirius Lunacy says:

    Right now I’m working my way through all 7 pages of the official White House cookbook ‘Cheeseberders & Parasites.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. One of our favorite things to do while traveling is to find the little county or town historical museums along the route and spend a couple hours there.

    Not only are they usually really interesting and staffed by friendly, bored, knowledgable locals (we’ve found some amazing restaurant recommendations this way, and one of those was how we found the McMenamins chain of brewpubs) they also invariably have copies of the local church/ladies auxiliary/etc cookbooks for sale, usually deeply influenced by whatever waves of immigration have passed through.

    This was Mrs’ BDR’s mom’s thing, too, and she gave us her cookbooks when she moved into assisted living, so we have dozens of them stretching back 60-70 years or more.

    Oddly though each and every one seems to have this recipe in them 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • tengrain says:

      That reminds me of when an OG blogger Kelso’s Nuts wrote a recipe for how to cook a leprechaun. It went viral (for those days).




    • MDavis says:

      I clicked your link and it went to a recipe site that offers a link to help you find and buy your ingredients. Afraid to click it.


  5. artahzen says:

    I have a set of Women’s Day Encyclopedia of Cooking cookbooks from 1969, given to me by my mother when I graduated from high school. I have used them for decades. I also have The Alice’s Restaurant Cookbook, given to me in 1972 as a wedding gift. I have never cooked one recipe from it but I have read it countless times and treasure it. I unfortunately lost the record in the back that was Arlo reading the recipe for Grandma Beet Jam, if iirc.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. h1n1thislittlepiggy says:

    UTSA = Uni TX San Antonio has received a gift of thousands of cook books from Mexico. Almost all hand written in Spanish. They are scanning and putting online and also translating copies as funds allow. A selection of dessert books were just translated.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. laura says:

    If you dont have the New York Times cookbook by Amanda Hesser, you should. I should know – I’m big as house and have to butter my hips to get through the doorway (or so it seems somedays.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Is it better than Craig Claibornes? My (then future) MIL gave me one of his NYT cookbooks (the 1980 version with Pierre Franey) for christmas many many years ago, probably mostly as self-defense to keep me from swiping hers 🙂


    • MDavis says:

      Maybe you should make some changes. If I was you, I’d look for bigger doorways.


  8. MDavis says:

    My two faves are the James Beard book on bread (for reading) and mom’s old cookbook (for the recipes and the cooking attitude) with recipes like “gingersnaps – start with the sugar cookie recipe (pg. ###) and make these adjustments” – (followed by changes in ingredients), a recipe for fricassee squirrel (not trying it, but a reasonable reference for what fricassee is) and a WW II substitution due to rationing section.
    I used to have the encyclopedia cookbook, but every time my sister walked into my kitchen another volume would disappear when she walked out, starting with the one with cookies in it. I ended up giving the remains away.
    Families, ammirite?


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