Friday Fun: Building the ultimate cookbook library

Dec 17 2010 Published by under friday fun

Nice article by Rob Mifsud in the Globe and Mail the other day combining two of my favourite things: food and books!

First, some pointers. Ditch the superstore and head to a shop that specializes in cookbooks. As Jonathan Cheung, co-owner of Appetite for Books in Montreal, points out: "I have personally cooked out of at least 700 of the cookbooks in the store. So we have a personal knowledge of how certain books could work for certain people."

Understand your cooking limitations, expectations and audience. Mika Bareket, owner of Toronto's Good Egg, tailors her recommendations based on a simple set of questions: "What do you already own and like? Do you follow recipes word for word, or are you looking for ideas more than instructions? Who do you cook for - children, vegetarians, fancy dinner parties etc.?"

The author then proceeds to recommend a Bible, Nice to Have and a For the Adventurous in a couple of different categories. Check out the original link for fuller descriptions of the choices!

General

Canadian

Baking/Dessert

International

Reference

Wild Card

I tend to use cookbooks to browse and expand my repertoire. I'll use the web for known item searching. For example, if I want to make braised short ribs, I'll google it and see how a bunch of different people are preparing the dish and then either pick one or freestyle based on a kind of composite picture. Of the websites out there, my favourite is probably Simply Recipes.

As for cookbooks I keep going back to over and over again, I'll pick just a couple: by far my favourite cookbooks are Michael Smith's two Chef at Home books, the first one here and the expanded edition here. I really love Smith's emphasis on simple recipes as scaffolding for experimentation in the kitchen. It's really about "cooking without a recipe" -- or at least as much as a book of recipes can be.

2 responses so far

  • Martoons says:

    Just wondering - are you reading with actual physical books or do you read on something like the iPad or Kindle? Where I live I am still seeing everyone reading 'physical' books and it doesn't look like it'll be changing too soon either! Thanks šŸ™‚

  • John Dupuis says:

    I still mostly read physical books but I do sometimes read books on a Kobo. My "problem" is that I have about 50 years worth of physical books lying around the house waiting to be read...

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