I am currently playing a little game with my cookbooks that I like to call Ship, Store, or Pitch.
Most of them will be stored, and a few will be given away or sold. But are there any that I can’t live without for a while? The answer is probably no, particularly considering the wealth of recipes and information available on the internet. Still, I’m thinking it might be nice to have a few favorites sitting on the shelf in my tiny Paris apartment like old friends, reminding me of dinner parties past.
Here are just a few of the contenders for the crossing:
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volumes I and II by Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle. Pro: Duh. Con: May be rendered redundant by ubiquity of actual French food in what is, after all, the capital of France.
The Time Life Good Cook and Foods of the World collections. Pro: Classic, thoroughly annotated, reliable recipes, written or edited by, among others, Richard Olney, Waverly Root, and M.F.K. Fisher. Con: I currently possess 15 titles from these two series; there is no way I could take them all.
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. Pro: I actually use this one. Con: I’m thinking. Give me just a minute…
The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, by Claudia Roden. Pro: This one is especially useful in the summer months, when eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes are abundant. Also, with recipes from Iran to Morocco, this is the perfect food to eat before devouring toothache-inducing sweets from La Bague de Kenza. Con: This leaves less room for toothache-inducing sweets from La Bague de Kenza.
The Simple Art of Perfect Baking, by Flo Braker. Pro: This book lives up to its title. Con: I may not have a stand mixer for a while.
The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters. Pro: This is pretty much how I like to cook, much of the time. Con: I usually don’t use a book when I’m cooking this way.
What do you think? Do you have any favorites that you couldn’t live without?