Introducing My Cookbook Collection

Books

For some people, it’s shoes. For others, it’s consumer electronics. For me, the object of my collection obsession, as it has been for a number of years, has been the cookbook.

You may have noticed that, so far, a lot of the recipes that have appeared on The Best Food Blog Ever have been sourced from cookbooks and culinary magazines, and this is by design. I am approaching the development of this blog much like the evolution of my own skills in the kitchen. At first, you prepare recipes exactly as they are presented in a cookbook, to the letter, and as someone new to the kitchen, you fear any variation lest you “mess up” the final dish. Then, one day, you really want to make a particular recipe and you find out that you’re missing one small ingredient – and you substitute, and it works. Then you do this more and more, and one day, you’re using the cookbooks and recipes as launching points, taking an idea here, a technique there, and making your own creations based on tried-and-true past experiences.

That’s my rationale for having so many cookbooks. Quite a few of them are good for only a handful of recipes, but they are solid, dependable recipes that will always work. Others, like the Joy of Cooking and The New Basics, are the go-to books for master recipes covering a broad range of different ingredients and techniques. Still others form the basis for my core knowledge of ethnic cuisine, and I try to limit myself to the “best of the best” for a certain nationality, but someone’s always writing a better one that will be published one day, and that will invariably end up in my bookcase.

The oldest cookbook that I own was probably picked up when I was fifteen, and the most recent was likely found at an outlet store for a killer price. I used to avoid books that had a lot of fancy photography and advanced layout (I still have a small collection of Frugal Gourmet paperbacks) but in today’s modern times that’s all we seem to get, and I don’t mind the shift. I’ve come to realize that food photography can go a long way towards illustrating what a dish is supposed to look like, and without it, you’ve lost an important barometer of how well you’re executing a dish.

Perhaps the best part about finally buying a house was being able to display all of my cookbooks in one place, as opposed to having random stacks of them on the floor in our old apartment.

Well, that, and the larger kitchen.