Cookbook Meme

Karen at Pilgrim’s Pots and Pans tagged me for a cookbook meme, as I understand it, a positive form of chain mail a la bloggers. (Okay, I got flack for not truly defining “meme” – so here it is: Meme pronounced Meem is an alteration of mimeme and defined by Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary as an idea, behavior, style or usage that spreads from person to person). I traced back some of the answers to this effort and was impressed so I thought I would get my answers up on my blog as soon as possible…

1. Total number of cookbooks I own – abooks1 About 230+ cookbooks. I also have 500+ food magazines (Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Vogue Entertaining & Travel, etc.) that are catalogued on my computer so I know where they are and which ones I still have to acquire to complete my archives. I walk around with a list (of magazine issues that I still need) in my wallet and scour discount magazine shops for old issues at reduced prices.

2. Last cookbook(s) I bought – I tend to abooks2buy in bunches so the last batch included: amuse-bouche by Rick Tramonto (Random House), The Duck Cookbook by James Peterson (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), What Einstein Told His Cook by Robert L. Wolke (Norton) and Asian Ingredients by Bruce Cost (Quill). I also order cookbooks on-line, buy them on trips, and get many of them as gifts.

3. Last food/cookbook I read – I tend to abooks3read several at the same time… so the books by my bedside at the moment include:

The Balthazar Cookbook by Keith McNally, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson (Potter) based on food from the famed Balthazar restaurant in New York and the book itself is physically beautiful
Dinner is Served by Arthur Inch (Running Press) which is an English Butler’s Guide to the Art of the Table
blue ginger by les huynh (Murdoch Books) no, not the Ming Tsai guy but an ethnic Vietnamese chef who now lives in Australia
Schott’s Food & Drink Miscellany by Ben Schott (Bloomsbury Publishing) which has all kinds of food trivia.

4. Five cookbooks that mean a lot to me –

The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker (Bobbs-Merrill Company) – no cook, serious or amateur should be without this basic guide to cooking. I have had one for at least 25 years. Last month in Baguio I found a used copy at an SM mall bookstore for PHP120 and bought it to leave in our kitchen at the beach, a real bargain!

The Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson (Oxford) – abooks4a superb reference material for all things foodwise from unusual ingredients to key cooking techniques and the history of food. Superb and indispensable since I started my food website. The number of entries and depth/quality of content is just fantastic. It is like the Bible of Food…

A Tuscan in the Kitchen by Pino Luongo (Potter) – my first real introduction to Italian cooking… my dog-eared and well-worn copy of this terrific cookbook that has no measurements but only the names of ingredients was my first introduction to cooking based more on my senses than exact instructions. I dined many times at this chef’s Il Cantinori restaurant in Manhattan and Sapore di Mare restaurant in East Hampton, once sitting next to Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley.

Staffmeals by David Waltuck (Workman) – the chef/owner of the superb Chanterelle restaurant wrote a book about the hearty but delicious meals he used to prepare for the kitchen and waitstaff of his many starred restaurant – it is practical, economical and perfect for informal dining and get togethers with friends. Classics are given nice twists that make the ordinary extraordinary.

The French Laundry Cookbook and Bouchon by Thomas Keller (Artisan) because I firmly believe Keller must be one of the best chefs alive with such a passion for his cooking, his kitchen, his equipment and his restaurant that I would be remiss to leave him out. Surprisingly, despite the intimidating recipes, they actually work.

5. Which 5 people would you like to see fill this out on their blogs – don’t think I know five…

1. Schatzli, a frequent visitor and fellow Cebuano at For the Love of Food & Travel
2. A Full Belly
3. Wysgal
4. Blogging Bugs


14 Responses

  1. Oh my goodness! Just for you Marketman, I should’ve added another question: how do you keep track of your collection, the Library of Congress or the Dewey Decimal System? Hehehe!

    When I get the urge to buy a food/cookbook, I should ask for your opinion about it first. Or how about a monthly or weekly blog feature: Marketman Book Review?

  2. ok mine is coming am amazed about your collection and we (my husband and I agreed about Keller…. wish wish for French Laundry!

    As for the magazines we have more than that I think.. becasue we buy French, Swiss and UK food magazines as well.

  3. A popular chef here in NZ is Jamie Olliver, TV host of Naked Chef (no he does not cook naked) which is a hit in UK. It’s all about cooking with essential ingredients. Check him at google.

  4. I have seen Jamie Oliver on TV and like his relaxed style. I own 2-3 of his cookbooks. He is good, but often his ingredients are not available in the Philippines so I tend to use his books less often than others. Frankly, I have left out Filipino cookbooks on purpose as I have not found one that brings it up to the level of the others I mentioned. I like Doreen Fernandez’s kinilaw book (with hardly any recipes), I like Gene Gonzalez’s Cocina Sulipena and even the ancient tome – Recipes of the Philippines – by Enriqueta David-Perez but none of them approach the ones I mentioned in my post. I think the best recipes in the Philippines are in homes or in the minds of a dying breed of home cooks. No one has successfully pulled them together in a comprehensive book. I would try but I would gain 40 pounds and lose a phenomenal amount of money to boot…

  5. If you were to ask my husband about Naked Chef his eyes are going to roll… you cant compare him with Ducasse, Keller, Boulud, Ramsey maybe, The Roux brothers… Olivers cooking is is modern Brit pub homey cooking.
    Not the classic cuisine or nouvelle cuisine cookbook some pro chef will collect.

    He is a show chef not a classic one!

  6. 230 cookbooks? Wow! Have you used them all? I mean, tried at least once recipe from each book?

    Do you have any cookbooks by Bradley Ogden? I love his restaurants – Lark Creek Inn (Marin County) and One Market (San Francisco) – and have been thinking of buying his book(s).

  7. i would like to start my own cookbook collection, what books do you think should i start with aside from the joy of cooking

  8. Fried Nuerons I haven’t made a recipe from each. Sometimes I just buy based on regional focus, great pictures, brilliant reviews, gut feel… oddly, I do not have a Bradley Ogden book, I don’t think. Odd you should ask, I was holding one at Barnes and Noble in New York last month but ended up buying something else. I do understand he is really good but I have not eaten at any of his restaurants yet. Suzette, Besides Joy of Cooking, perhaps one of the Biba Caggiano or Marcella Hazan’s Italian cookbooks are a good choice. While some might think she is just an upscale caterer, Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa series of books has really workable easy and basic recipes that are great for a beginner cook/host. Also, in-depth books on sauces, soup or duck by James Peterson are also useful in a home library. If you want to get fancy, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Eric Ripert (of Le Bernardin fame) are all brilliant. In food magazines, my favorite is Vogue Entertaining and Travel from Australia…if I were to be a food magazine, I would be that one.

  9. I have always been on the lookout for The Joy of Cooking every time I go to Book Sale or any secondhand book stores. Lucky you to have found one in Baguio!

  10. hi MM, a late feedback here as I am reading through your archives by date. I, too, collect cookbooks–I don’t have nearly as much as you but I have enough that it takes a bit of a space in the kitchen. I collect based on several criteria: primarily buying cookbooks from countries/places I visit and make sure the author is a cook and preferably a local. Secondly, based on my food interest–i.e., Filipino, Chinese, Italian, French, Mediterranean, etc. Lastly based in either trivial or historical content. One of my first cookbooks was by Goodhousekeeping.



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