I love cookbooks. Sometimes dismissed as costly or unnecessary in an age of endless online recipes (hello!), cookbooks seem to have fallen out of favor with some. It’s a shame, really; because there’s nothing quite like opening a cookbook and finding a recipe. Is it as easy as googling “apple cake in a bundt pan like my grandma used to make?” No, it isn’t. Do I have, at my fingertips, 3,402 recipes for apple cake in a bundt pan like I do with the interwebs? No, I do not. Variety is great; sometimes letting someone else (in my case, the lovelies at Google) do the work for me is enjoyable; a stress-reliever.
But there’s something – just that thing – about a recipe which lives between the pages of a beloved cookbook. About thumbing through an old cookbook you’ve had for ages and discovering recipes you meant to try years ago and never did. About seeing at stunning photographs on actual paper you can touch and not a cold, glowing screen. It’s like the difference between seeing a Van Gogh painting on Wikipedia and seeing it on a wall 3 feet in front of you during your visit to the art museum; it’s so alive, it’s like it’s breathing.
Cookbooks are something to be treasured. They are to be dusted, read and reread, and accidentally floured in my failed attempts at pastry. They are to be kept on shelves, and collected, and occasionally neglected, but always loved. Cookbooks are art to me, and the recipes they contain – unlike those which float around in cyberspace – are mine. So I urge you to not give up on cookbook purchasing; the printed word is a beautiful thing, and I consider my books (all of them, not even just cookbooks) investments.
This library contains the books I’ve collected thus far in my cooking journey, and I’m sure there will be more. They’re so plentiful, I’ve divided them up into separate collections, as follows:
The Celebrity Collection, which contains cookbooks written by celebrity chefs and other famous people and/or places. You’ll find everything from Bobby Flay to Momofuku Milk Bar, with a special mini-section devoted to my all-time favorite chef, Nigella Lawson.
The Williams Sonoma Collection, which exists because I realized at some point while organizing this section that I have an inordinate amount of Williams Sonoma’s cookbooks. What can I say? They do a great job at creating easy-to-follow, instructional cookbooks. I hold them in such high regard that i thought they deserved their own section.
The Vintage Collection, because it should come as no surprise to you that i enjoy a strange recipe or two. And I’m a huge fan of simpler times; back when it was normal to encase meat and vegetables in Jell-O and have the Junior League girls over for lunch. Do I idealize it? Sure I do, but I have no doubt that some things were better back then. My collection of vintage cookbooks are my time machine of sorts: they allow me to imagine – from a food and entertaining perspective – what live may have been like back then.
The Loaners Collection, which is less my collection and way more my lovely and amazing local library’s collection. I know cookbooks aren’t cheap, and I don’t usually purchase blindly. Your library is a magnificent resource for test-driving cookbooks you think you want, and it’s completely free. This section will house the books I’ve loved from the library and would recommend, but haven’t pulled the trigger on yet (because I’m not a billionaire). Once i do, they will head for a more permanent location.