Over a month ago, we were tapped by Kate of the Accidental Hedonist in the cookbook meme that was making the rounds of food blogs. At the time, we seemed to be running a lot of non-recipe posts and so our response got put aside. Big mistake. That is how we forget things for weeks and weeks. And it's especially unfortunate as this meme combines my two favourite things: cooking and books. So, better late than never, here is my response:
1. Total number of (cook) books Iíve owned: 27 (I think - there may be one or two kicking around the bedroom, living room, baby's room...)
3. Last (food) book I read:
Long ago in France by MFK Fisher. I finished it this morning and its loving descriptions of Dijon in the 1930s had my mouth watering. I have long known that Burgundian cuisine is wonderful, but this book brought it home even more. Snails, sauces, creamy dishes...all described in exquisite salivating detail...
4. Five (cook) books that mean a lot to me:
The Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School cookbook (1950s edition) has to come first. My mother's old tattered copy was my first reference book in the world of cooking and even as a child I loved just paging through it reading about how to make jam or pick fruit. I now have a 1980s edition and the Critic bought me a reproduction of the first, 1896, edition. Reading the first edition has made me realize why it is such a good reference work; it was originally a textbook for a cooking school and so has great basic information in addition to the recipes.
Nigel Slater's Appetite. This is his best book, a big compendium of recipes and food philosophy. Nigel is a wonderfully readable food writer. Not only does he describe the food lovingly but he makes you feel like he's a good friend telling you about this great dish he just discovered. It's the first cookbook I ever sat down and read from cover to cover.
American Woman's Cookbook. I found this cookbook in my grandmother's kitchen when we were clearing the house after she died. As she was an Austriam immigrant I imagine her buying this book as a young wife, so that she could prepare American dishes for her American son. She was the best cook I have ever known and happily she didn't adopt much from this book as it is full of typical early 20th century American dishes: elaborate, bland and uninteresting for the most part. On the other hand, as a piece of cultural history it's fascinating.
Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking. My sister gave me this cookbook one year for Christmas and it's been one of my favourites ever since. Prior to reading this book, my knowledge of Italian food was very limited and it has opened my eyes to the wonderful variety of Italian dishes in the world. It also gave me the courage to try my hand at pasta-making, which is a hoot!
Larousse Gastronomique. The classic reference book. I love my Larousse: it is the food equivalent of the Encyclopaedia Britannica with the added bonus of classic French recipes.
5. Which 3 people would you most like to see fill this out in their blog?
The Food Whore - I have become addicted to her blog recently and though I don't imagine she'll have the time to answer you never know!
David Lebovitz - He's a great pastry chef and a new friend and I'm curious to see which books (besides his own) have influenced his cooking.
Clotilde of Chocolate & Zucchini has recently entered a period of life when her schedule is more relaxed so perhaps she'll have the time to respond? I'm curious to see what she is reading!