Calling all cookbook lovers!
If you love to cook, or you just love to read and collect cookbooks, you might want to attend Building a Cookbook Collection on Thursday, October 6 at the North York Central Library.
Does the bookshelf in your kitchen look anything like this? Cookbooks appeal to us with their gorgeous photos and their promise of perfect meals to share with family and friends. Some become trusted favourites. Others disappoint.
Judging by the amount of space devoted to them in bookstores, publishing cookbooks is a growth industry. According to Global Books in Print, there are currently over 127,000 books on cooking available in English alone. So how do we choose books that reflect our abilities, interests and lifestyle and, more importantly, build those choices into a cookbook collection?
Alison Fryer is uniquely qualified to answer this question. She has been manager of The Cookbook Store in Toronto since it opened in 1983. She reviews books on the store's website, interviews and hosts authors at the store and at events around the city and is a frequent contributor to radio and television.
She will discuss what features to look for in a good cookbook and suggest how to build a collection, from basic and classic titles to the books that best reflect specific interests.
I'm sure Alison will have lots of great suggestions, but let's get the discussion started a little early. If condition is anything to go by - and with cookbooks surely it is - then the best-loved book in my kitchen has to be the one with the broken spine and splattered pages - The New Best Recipe .
If you know Cook's Illustrated magazine, then the premise of this spinoff book will be familiar. The magazine staffers have developed the "best" recipes for hundreds of dishes through a labour-intensive trial-and-error process. For each dish they compare existing recipes, examine them in the context of food chemistry, and then develop the "best recipe" through exhaustive testing and the development of foolproof techniques. Heavy on the text, no glossy photos. Definitely more the science than the art of cooking!
Here are a few more staff favourites:
"Delectable recipes for the combinations and dependable for the high ratio of hits to misses. Exceptionally good: carottes râpées for its combination of currants, lemon and mint; sweet potato and carrot purée for how rich and smooth it is; sautéed apples with Calvados for the butter and, of course, Calvados and how well it goes with beef; and lime mousse for its tang and froth."
"It organizes the recipes in menus and by season. Every recipe I have tried has worked well and many have become favourites in my house (especially the tomato soup and the Christmas cookies). Instructions are clear and there are descriptions of the food which go along with each menu."
"Every cookbook written by these two Torontonians, Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford, is my favourite. However, if I had to choose just one to have on my shelves it would be “Seductions of Rice”. Every new recipe tried is an adventure. It starts with a glass of wine and a pen and paper. It then evolves into a trip to one of Toronto’s amazing markets (China town, Kensington, Little India etc) and ends with a tasty meal and a great learning experience. Duguid and Alford have modified traditional and family recipes so that all of the ingredients can be found in Toronto’s markets.
A cookbook is more than a collection of recipes. It is a cultural artefact that can describe a certain place and time as well as aspects of a culture. The cookbooks written by Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford do just that and much more. They bring together food, travel and culture. As travelogues they describe in words, food and photography parts of the world you may never get to see and introduce you to people you will never meet. These books will satiate the most seasoned armchair nomad as well as the adventurous cook – or the cook that wants to be adventurous."
Learn more and get expert suggestions from Alison Fryer:
Thursday, October 6, 2011
North York Central Library