Prose Header

A Shopping List:
Cookbooks You Can Read

by Danielle L. Parker

Gary Chassman, Culinaria: The United States — The hardback versions are enormous, colorful, coffee-table books you will want to read — and it will take months — propped up to take the weight off. The paperback versions, though still heavy, can be used in the kitchen. The United States edition is a fabulous overview of our national cuisine and customs by geographical region. I heartily recommend every edition in this series. I own the editions for France, Russia, Spain, Italy, Germany and the Caribbean. There are now editions for China, Hungary and Southeast Asia as well.

Lillian Langseth-Christensen, Gourmet’s Old Vienna Cookbook — I love everything Lillian Langseth-Christiansen wrote. I used to look forward to her articles in the great, sadly defunct Gourmet magazine. This book is a time-traveling memoir with good recipes.

Walter Staib, The City Tavern Cookbook: Recipes from the Birthplace of American Cuisine — Want to know what our Founding Fathers ate? Find out the reason those waistcoats were strained. This book is a great dive into history. The hearty traditional recipes are colorfully presented, one per page, and have been adapted with no “First, catch a chicken...” Not cooking lite, but who cares? Good for festive occasions.

The National Council of Negro Women, The Black Family Reunion Cookbook — The recipes were good enough I considered claiming descent from Thomas Jefferson so I could crash the party. Homey reminiscences make up most of the non-recipe reading material. Someone, please adopt me as your red-headed stepchild. I am willing to wash dishes. And I will need the exercise.

Elisabeth David, A Book of Mediterranean Food — Okay, so I bought the Folio edition because it was pretty. My edition did have charming illustrations, and I’m a sucker for slipcovers. The book, written post-War during a bad time, is a time-traveling travelogue. The recipes themselves need some careful reading, but if you ever wanted to know what they cook in that little village down on the coast, and some gossip about that little village, here you are. As someone who loves the taste of olive oil, and can knock back retsina as well as any table-dancing Greek, this book was just my thing.

Copyright © 2013 by Danielle L. Parker

Home Page