Today while visiting one of my favorite blogs, Poor Richard's Almanac, I stumbled into the midst of a war--a cookbook war. Never one to retreat from battle, I shook my head in disbelief as I read that Our Friend Ben thinks there are too many cookbooks at Hawk's Haven. Silly, silly Ben! The Wenches are definitely on Silence's side on this one. We proclaim that there is no such thing as too many cookbooks! Ben, if you don't start showing Silence and her cookbooks some proper appreciation why we'll... we'll... we'll start hurling socks at you!
People who come to our house often comment on how many cookbooks we have. Considering how many books we have in our house in general, we find it odd that visitors would find the number of cookbooks worthy of noting. But apparently it's something people remember about us long after they've returned back whence they came.
A few months ago a friend from Victoria BC sent us an article from The Globe & Mail by Don Gillmor titled "You Are What You Read." While perusing a new bibliography of Canadian cookbooks Gillmor ponders his own journey through the world of cookbooks, from his grandmother's collection of old world Scottish recipes to his own adult guilty pleasures of Nigella. Reading the article, our friend said, made him think of our shelves full of cookbooks. We were intrigued by Gillmor's observation.
Cookbooks are a barometer of society; an indication of our priorities, our desires even. You could map the romantic history of the country through its cookbooks; every era gets the cookbook it needs.
What can cookbooks reveal about our past or about who we are today? We decided to take inventory.
We have a smallish bookshelf in our kitchen that holds our cookbooks. There is quite an eclectic collection residing on these shelves. Our collection is definitely international, though the Mediterranean is strongly represented, followed closely by North African and the Caribbean. There is an unequivocal emphasis on fresh produce. Some of our cookbooks are deteriorating due to high usage. Some have sentimental value, reminding us of our travels. Some are gifts from friends and colleagues. Some are unique, odd, bizarre. A few are eye candy and are poured over only with immaculately clean hands. Here is a sampling.
Bern Union Church Cookbook compiled by Sunday School Cookbook Committee. Wing Nut's mom and grandma both have recipes included.
Folk Art and Foodways of the Pennsylvania Dutch by Jeff Dietrich and Lucetta Trexler Muth, illustrations by Gladys Lutz. A gift from Wing Nut's mom when we visited her stall at the Kutztown Festival a couple of years ago.
Cocina al Minuto by Ediciones CUBAMERICA. Because Mom said so. This was the ONLY cookbook Curmudgeon's parents ever used.
The Political Palate: A Feminist Vegetarian Cookbook (vol. I & II) by The Bloodroot Collective. Because the personal is political and the political sure better be edible. This one is from Curmudgeon's crunchy granola co-op days.
The Healthy Kitchen by Andrew Weil, M.D. and Rosie Daley. At our house this one is known as "the old geezer and hip chick cookbook" since we can never recall its proper title. Wing Nut's to-die-for scones started here.
The Low GI Diet Cookbook by Dr. Jennie Brand-Miller et al. And all the other Low GI and New Glucose Revolution titles put out by the Australia based team, foremost authorities on the glycemic index.
Salmon by Diane Morgan. Yes, an entire cookbook dedicated to salmon. Come on, we live in the Pacific Northwest. No, there aren't any desserts.
The Lavender Cookbook by Sharon Shipley. The town of Sequim (pronounced Skwim) located in the Dungeness Valley over on the Olympic Peninsula is considered the lavender capitol of the US. Every July Sequim hosts the Lavender Festival, a lavender lover's paradise. At the festival lavender finds its way into everything from lemonade to bratwurst to ice cream. Lavender, it's not just for eye pillows!
Fresh Moroccan by Nada Saleh. Wonderful recipes combined with beautiful photography. Once upon a time, way back in kindergarten, Curmudgeon had a traumatic experience with raw carrots. She hasn't touched a raw carrot since. This is the cookbook that got Curmudgeon to eat raw carrots.
Saffron Shores: Jewish Cooking of the Southern Mediterranean by Joyce Goldstein. This book rounds out a trilogy by this author, with the first two books focusing on Italy and Spain. In this volume Goldstein explores the spices of the Maghreb--Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya.
Three Dog Bakery Cookbook by Dan Dye and Mark Beckloff. Yes, we do bake our own doggie biscuits.
Biscotti by Maria Robbins. Yes, we do bake our own biscotti. No, you and your dog cannot come live with us.
Waffles from Morning to Midnight by Dorie Greenspan. As Margaret Atwood wrote, "One man's cookbook is another woman's soft porn."
Chocolate & Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier. This is our most recent addition. We enjoy her writing as much as her recipes.
What cookbooks are on YOUR bookshelf? Do tell...