This year, I made a pact to actually put my cookbooks to use. It breaks my heart to see them sitting on the shelf just waiting to be opened. I wonder why so many of us gravitate towards the internet to hunt for recipes as opposed to our own culinary arsenals? Is it that we believe that we have easier access to a wider variety of recipes at the click of a button?
And when do we actually purchase a cookbook? Where does exploring the bookstore begin and the online shopping end? Where do we look for recipes if it's not a Pinterest search away?
I asked a few of my friends in the food blogging community their opinions on this subject. I was curious to see what other people did with their books or if they even had any. Were they like me and barely cooked out of their entire collections? I received a lot of answers that I expected; some people hoarded, some only cook 1 or 2 of the recipes. And I began to wonder why that was, so I kept digging.
Is this aversion to cooking from a book a matter of inconvenience or something more? Cookbook's are certainly not going away any time soon, in fact, according to this Food52 article, cookbooks are selling extremely well, so there must be a reason people continue to buy them despite technology slowly taking over our everyday.
My lovely group of fellow foodies that contributed their thoughts and feelings on the subject had a wide variety of cookbook "requirements." Some were just focused on the photography and the composition of the book. Others looked for niche publications that they were able to really dive deep into. And a few others looked toward cookbooks for inspiration to funnel into their own creations.
I like a cookbook that is clear and concise, that doesn't require complicated tools to make each recipe, and teaches me something new. One of the cookbooks I'm ready currently, The Yellow Farmhouse, by Christopher Kimball, isn't exactly new, but I've been learning so much about baking bread from illustrations to the details about the ingredients that create a cake. When I'm able to read a cookbook for the story or to find something delicious to eat, I find that very special, but to gain new knowledge, is so very important to me and is a vital part of what I look for in a piece of writing.
In this quote by Sarah Witman-Saltin, (you can find the entire piece here), she sums up what a lot of us would find very true about holding onto the cookbooks we love so dearly and continuing to buy new ones;
"Sometimes we are searching for something to cook, and directions for how to do so. But sometimes we are simply looking to feel connected: to ourselves, to others, to history, to culture, to our bodies by way of the rumbling in our bellies that inevitably comes after reading a recipe for cinnamon rolls or lamb curry or mapo tofu. This is why cookbooks matter: They offer us a view of the world that we couldn't otherwise have and in doing so, they help us better understand, figure out how to become the best version of ourselves or how to pretend to be someone else for a moment, and, lastly, feed ourselves and others."