Monday, June 11, 2012

The Last Word on Food...

...On my cookbook shelf, is my hot-off-the-press copy of the glossy new fourth edition of The Culinary Institute of America's Garde Manger.
 Isn't it lovely??? The stylish cover drew me irresistibly.

 At 75 USD, it is a book I would normally try taking out of the library, and keeping through several renewals. But having let various gift certificates to B&N stack up in my drawer, and being a member of the B&N club, I got it-- with free express 3-day shipping-- for just over 41 USD, tax included.

 Yes, it was cheaper online, with the member discount and a coupon, than in the Niagara Falls Boulevard store. Where, I say with disgust, it was not on the shelves, and would have had to be ordered for pick-up anyway. Disgust, because every other giant tome from every corner of the known earth was there, except for this basic resource. Why, in Buffalo, NY, should I be able to get that revered Italian compendium, The Silver Spoon, easier from my local bookseller than any edition put out by the CIA?

 And apparently, oversized cookbooks that are either exhaustive in scope, or that obsessively focus on a single ingredient, are in vogue just now. The shelves were drooping under the weight of them all, from an 850 page book on barbecue to a drinks manual that would terrify Dale Degroff.

 Did I want some of them? Yes. But nowadays, when my cookbooks are more for jump-starting my inspiration than for strict use of recipes, I don't spend cash on a book unless I've already perused it well, and know beyond a doubt that it will lift me up in the kitchen, time and again.

 Buying used books is a thrill that lets me break that rule. But I digress--

  Garde Manger contains more than enough solid technique and excellent recipes to open a restaurant from, and I'm especially intrigued by the cheese-making section. How much better, for one thing, will my fermented nut cheeses be, when I've made classic, fresh mozzarella? I look forward to understanding the cheese process from every side possible, except perhaps that of raising goats.

 Even the section on charcuterie is interesting, and I think will yield great vegetable experiments. Learning to go beyond my current cooking knowledge is a privilege, and having the means to do so, such a gift. So thanks, again, Janet & Terry, for those gift cards!

Q: What are three older cookbooks you couldn't do without?

 I'd pick The Silver Palate cookbooks, and not just because my favorite pie crust recipe is in one. Otherwise, it would have to be, you guessed it, Laurel's Kitchen, which always brings me back to basic family style vegetarian cooking, yet has so many recipes perfect for impressing meatists.

 And Madhur Jaffrey's Cookbook, which I've cooked my way through almost completely, over the years. The rice recipes alone make it a necessity for me.

 Do tell what your faves are, and don't be shy that they're not vegetarian.

 Peace, Mari




  1. That looks a wonderful cookbook!

    My three favourite cookbooks (all old now!)are:

    Sarah Brown's Vegetarian Cookbook

    Classic 1000 Vegetarian Recipes

    The Malawi Cookbook (which isn't veggie and I'll never cook locusts or such, but it is a great nostalgia trip and does have some good veggie recipes!)

  2. Now, Crafty woman, you know I have to look these up, especially the Malawi book...

    I'm always amazed and delighted at the acceptance and advancement that vegetarianism has in the UK-- some of my best veg books, and all around good cookbooks, are from there.