One of the great pleasures in writing about food is reading a lot of cookbooks. I’m not talking about choosing a recipe and cooking from a book, but rather sitting in a comfy armchair and letting a great writer and storyteller take me to another place, another time, or another culture through their love of the food.
I also read cookbooks to learn more about a particular food, technique, or cuisine. Many of these are stored in my Kindle Fire ebook reader. They offer the perfect alternative reading material when waiting for an appointment or putting in miles on the treadmill on a stormy day. Often essays open chapters or sidebars and tell a story about a recipe’s origin, ingredients, or the person who taught the writer to make the dish.
Acquiring Great Cookbooks
My first choice for acquiring a cookbook is the Boston Public Library (BPL). Buying cookbooks is expensive and storing them requires more space than I have. Therefore I audition potential purchases.
Many times I enjoy the BPL copy and use it to inspire a piece of writing or make notes for future reference. I can borrow it again if I need it.
However some books are so addicting that I will refer to them often, and so popular that I may have to wait to have the library copy longer or borrow it again.
These go onto my wishlist. A recent example is, “My Kitchen in Rome: Recipes and Notes on Italian Cooking” by Rachel Roddy. After reading a few rave reviews by colleagues I respect, I borrowed the ebook from the library.
I read and reread this book in a weekend. Roddy took me to her neighborhood in the Testaccio quarter of Rome and introduced me to the neighbors, vendors, streets, sights, sounds, and aromas she discovered. She tempted me to make the food she learned to make and to enjoy the culture.
It went on my wish list. At that time, the ebook price was not much less than the hardcover price. When the price finally dropped, I added it to my Kindle collection.
More of my favorite cookbooks like this one will be in upcoming posts.
What's on your Food Lover's shopping list?
Words: Penny Cherubino
Photos: ©2012-2017 Penny Cherubino
(Adapted for BostonZest from one of her Fresh & Local newspaper columns.)