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.
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.
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