Cookbook meme (months late)

Talk about being behind. I was offline for much of June and July, and didn't even realize I had been tagged by Helen of Grab Your Fork for this way back then, until I was looking up something and stumbled on it. If someone else tagged me also I apologize. I have been tagged for other memes but being perpetually behind on my reading, I've decided to give most of them a miss. This one I couldn't pass up though.

So here we go:

1. Total number of cookbooks I've owned: Full-size cookbooks, about 100. I also have about 80 back issues of Today's Cooking (or in Japanese, kyoh no ryouri), a monthly publication from the NHK (the Japanese equivalent of the BBC). It's the companion magazine to the daily cooking show of the same name that has been running on NHK forever. The magazines are collectively my bible for Japanese cooking. Another magazine collective I acquired this year is the complete 80-volume collection of original Fanny Cradock Cookery Programme magazines from the 1970s. I am making my way through these and should have an article up here about these shortly...

2. Last (cook) book I bought: Well, I have Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diary on order, but let's see... I think the last cook book I got was Les Recettes de Légumes de l'Oustau de Baumanière, by Jean-André Charial, the genius owner-chef of l'Oustau de Baumaniere in Les Baux, Provence (a 2-star Michelin restaurant and fabulous (and frightfully expensive) hotel). This is one of the few books that breaks the rule I have below about not buying cookbooks from professional restaurant chefs - it's filled with delicious vegetable dishes using the wonderful produce of Provence. (There is supposed to be an English translation out but I haven't found it at any online bookstore...)

3. Last (food) book I read Hungry Planet,, which I have reviewed here extensively. It's fascinating!

4. 5 (cook) books that mean a lot to me: Hmm, I am not sure if they mean a lot to me per se, but I do refer to these a lot:

  • Julia Childs, The Way To Cook. The bible for all western cuisine. Everything in this book works, which is the highest praise I could give to any cookbook.
  • Bernard Clayton'The New Complete Book Of Breads. Hundreds of bread recipes from the unusual to the familiar. I have tried maybe 50 recipes from this book and they have all been terrific, or at the very worst, conversation-worthy.
  • The aforementioned Today's Cooking magazines. I wish that NHK Publishing would come out with a Japanese cooking book in English - it's sure to be a must-have.
  • Nigella Lawson, the collective works. Cheating here a bit, but I find little nuggets of gold in each of her books that I own, in particular How to Eat, How To Be A Domestic Goddess and Feast.
  • James Beard's American Cookery. A classic goodie.

Bonus: Cookbook authors I tend to stay away from:

  • Martha Stewart. I like Martha in the abstract but... any recipe of hers that I have tried, just doesn't taste that good somehow. It usually looks great though.
  • Jamie Oliver. I am a big Jamie Oliver fan, and love his TV programs. His cookbooks are a bit too much like photo-coffee table books to be practical. I know he is cute but I don't really need spreads of him sitting on the ground looking adorable etc. However, his videos are actuallly very good (usually coming with the recipes featured).
  • Rachel Ray. I have one of her 30-minute Meals cookbooks, and I don't just seems like they are very similar in some way. And they aren't inspiring enough for me. I think you could just as well save your money and tape her 30-Minute shows and/or look up the recipes on the Food Network website. (I compare them with the 20 Minute Cooking segments/articles in Today's Cooking, which are truly varied.) I do like watching her on the Food Network when I'm in the U.S. though.
  • Most cookbooks by professional, restaurant-owning chefs, because they are mostly oriented to restaurant cooking, and therefore rather impractical for the home cook. Unless I am buying their book solely for the foodporn aspect, of course.
Filed under:  books and media food events

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