I need another cookbook like I need a hole in the head. But …

My newest cookbook focuses on olives and olive oil. Yum!

We already own loads of cookbooks.

One of my favorites is the Moosewood, a classic vegetarian cookbook I picked up in college when I began to move away from eating meat.

We also put our Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian to heavy use.

Many others factor in, along with a huge three-ring binder John made for me years ago, several inches thick with recipes we’d cut out or printed out over the years.

With excellent online recipe resources, like Epicurious, I probably don’t even need the cookbooks I have. I could just go online and search for whatever I need.

But I don’t just enjoy cookbooks for the practical assistance they offer putting dinner on the table. I like reading them for inspiration and for insight into how other people and other cultures cook.

Last year my sister in law gave me a wonderfully weathered copy of the New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne, dating back to 1961.

I will probably never take advantage of Claiborne’s several aspic recipes, even though he was thoughtful enough to provide a quick aspic recipe to speed preparation along. And even with six different sweetbreads recipes, I think I’ll pass.

But I have spent hours reading Claiborne’s pages as a time capsule to what refined cooking was like in the American 1960s. It is surprisingly adventurous, including both moussaka a la turque and moussaka a la grecque, sambal goreng from Indonesia, homemade chorizo and creole pork sausage, and a Chinese radish salad. And yet, the only salsa recipe included is a salsa verde made with prepared mustard, vinegar and chopped greens.

Craig Claiborne's New York Times Cookbook is a fascinating read.

This year for Christmas John got me The Feast of the Olive, as a sweet recognition of my relatively late-blooming love of olives.

There’s a parsley and olive salad with walnuts and Tabasco, goat cheese fried in olive oil and garlic, several tapenades, and of course a muffaletta sandwich. There are even descriptions of various kinds of olives and instructions to cure them at home.

So many things sound fantastic and I want to make about a dozen of them tonight.

But even if I don’t make any of them, ever, I will enjoy learning about olives and getting more inspired to cook with them. Even if I end up pulling the actual recipes from the Internet.



Categories: food and drink

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