Tuesday, June 21, 2005

That Cookbook Meme

It finally found it's way here thanks to Alice, so here goes...

Total number of (cook/food) books I've owned: I really have no idea. Because of limited space, I occasionally thin out my books, so who knows how many have passed through here. At the moment there are somewhere around 115. That's what I came up with when I took a count just a little while ago, but I'm sure there are more in hiding. The bookcase pictured above holds most of my cookbooks, but I also have a small shelf in the kitchen with my current favorites and some overflow in another bookcase.

Last (cook/food) book(s) bought: That would be Sicilian Cookery by Eufemia Azzolina Pupella, a cookbook that is available in a number of different languages and which is ubiquitous in souvenir shops in Sicily. I've looked through it a couple of times, but haven't yet cooked anything from it.

Last (cook/food) book I read: I finally got around to reading Bitter Almonds by Mary Taylor Simeti & Maria Grammatico, the story of a woman who spent much of her youth in sort of a convent in Erice (her mother sent her there after her father died so that she would be assured of having enough to eat). Her time there wasn't exactly happy, but while there she learned to make the almond pastries that later became the specialty of her own bakery. The second half of the book contains all the recipes for these traditional almond pastries. It's a quick read and fascinating. I thought it was really interesting how the nuns used everything. For example, the almond shells fueled the fire and leftover or burned pastries were ground up and reborn as new confections.

Five cookbooks that mean a lot to me: I've carefully browsed through most of my cookbooks page by page at least once, and there is a smaller set of books that have one or more recipes that I use on a regular basis. But I can only think of two or maybe three books that I would say mean a lot to me. One would be Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. So many of the recipes in here appeal to me - they really are recipes for people who love vegetables as much as for vegetarians. The second one (these are in no particular order) is the obvious one - Maida Heatter's Book of Great Cookies. One of my very first cookbooks and still my favorite cookie book. Maida Heatter is great - I love all her books - but this is my sentimental favorite. I wouldn't say my third book "means a lot to me" quite yet, but it has gradually become my #1 basic cookbook, having replaced an early edition of The New York Times Cookbook in that role. Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything is the book I refer to first when I have a question about how to do something or if I'm looking for a basic recipe.

Which 5 people would you most like to see fill this out in their blog? I think this meme has had a good run, so I will let this little branch of it say good night.


Ana said...

I've updated your entry. I love reading about everybody's favourites.

Anonymous said...

I just knew the Maida Heatter book would make your list of favorites! :) I've never even looked through "How to Cook Everything"...I definitely need to change that. I don't usually get rid of old cookbooks...I did once, and I still regret it today! It was a book on how to make interesting sausages. At the time, I was like...when am I ever going to make sausage? Well, I now have a meat grinder and am sorry. Oh well.

Cathy said...

Hi Ana - thanks! That's a great idea. I actually traced it back as far as I could, but it dead-ended at someone referred to as the itsiest one (but with no link). It's amazing to actually see how fast and how far something like this spreads!

Hi Alice! - Yeah, guess that was a given! :) Do give Mark Bittman's book a look - I'll bet you could check it out of the library and give it a trial run!

I have that problem too with books I get rid of, including cookbooks, it's just there's no more space! I try to be a little more judicious in buying cookbooks now, but I don't think I'll ever stop acquiring them altogether!