Cookbooks and Cooking: Julia, Marcella, Martha, Ina, Deb and More
By Erica and Karen
Cookbooks have always been part of our lives.
The internet is great for cooking. You can find a recipe for anything at all, and it will be user rated. Sometimes quite humorously. You can type in the ingredients you have in your kitchen and voila! Your iPad will tell you what you can make with them. But there is still nothing like a good cookbook. It’s the stuff of dreams and possibilities.
We recently moved, and were forced to go through our lifetime stash of cookbooks. It’s amazing how many we bought—in bookstores, online and during travels. Did we really expect to cook with them? A whole book on lobster rolls. One from the Ritz in London about high tea. Another by Jackie Kennedy’s cook about what she liked to serve for formal lunches. Still another on jambalaya and one just for Bloody Marys. Dozens and dozens of them. A few with the binding hardly cracked. All now gone.
We of course kept our favorites. Joy of Cooking. Julia Child's two volumes, well worn and stained. Marcella Hazan’s Classic Italian Cooking. James Beard's American Cookery. Foundational tomes from the days when pictures didn’t matter. And we kept the ones that remind us of cooking our first meals. The New York Times Cookbook by Craig Clairborne. Pierre Franey’s (remember him?) 60-Minute Gourmet. The Silver Palate Cookbook. The Bel Air Cookbook of Southern California Food provided our Christmas menu for decades. Martha Stewart's Entertaining taught us how to think about dinner parties.
But now our favorites have pictures, and stories. And while we keep a lot of herbs and spices in our kitchens, we have discarded all those specialty pots and pans. (The pate pan in particular did not make the move.) We like to keep it flavorful, but simple. Ina Garten gets it. So does Deb Perelman with her Smitten Kitchen cookbooks. Martha Stewart's new slow cooking book (with a little work outside the pot) is another. We love everything written by Marcus Samuelsson or Yotam Ottolenghi or Mario Batalli. And the Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook.
We have both moved to new places and new kitchens. We will look through the cookbooks that survived the move, and plan the meals that will make these new places our homes. We will cook, filling the air with good smells and the table with happy eaters.
And we will keep buying cookbooks--because they inspire us somehow, and we love where they take us.