what's your favorite cookbook?

My favorites are the collected works of M.F.K. Fisher and John Thorne. Not really “cookbooks,” but thoughtful books about food which often include recipes.

Favorite actual cookbooks…these are two which spring to mind. I don’t use either of them more than a few times a year, but they have a warm feel to them, and each time I reach for one I know something good will come of it:

THE HUNGARIAN COOKBOOK by Susan Derecskey. A great guide to a wonderful and not altogether highly-respected cuisine.

SHUCK BEANS, STACK CAKES, AND HONEST FRIED CHICKEN: THE HEART AND SOUL OF SOUTHERN COUNTRY KITCHENS by Ronny Lundy. One of the better southern cookbooks on the market, and Lundy pals around with bluegrass musicians, so as a bonus you get to find out how Sam Bush likes his pinto beans.

It’s hard to tell which is the best; but here are the top three runners up to number one favorite cookbook. Two are a series of cookbooks, but I am lumping 'em into one.

a. The Beautiful Cookbook series: It’s like a travel book with recipes. It is a beautiful series. Photos are wonderful and the recipes are fantastic. Including the standards: Chinese, Italian [3 or 4 volumes], American [regional types], Mexican etc. I love just reading these recipes and gazing at the scumptious photos.

b. Time-Life Foods of the World [?] came out in the earlly 1970s I think. Wonderful two part series [spiral cookbook with a photo book accompaniment]. Germany, England, France, African, Latin American, Caribbean, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Italian, Quintet [Belgian, Moroccan, Greece, Eastern Europe], Scandanavian… I should check to see if some of the cooks/editors of this series also worked on the Beautical series because there are strong similarities.

c. Anything by vegetarian gourmet Rose Schulman. Lighter and easier to prepare than the Moosewood series. She lives and caters in France so there’s a heavy french touch to her cooking.

Another to add: sorry, but this is the one that I use alot but wouldn’t characterize as a cookbook/set of recipes. It’s A to Z Cooking by the Culinary Institute of California {?} - I’m going to browze through it right now, but it’s downstairs so I guess I’ll join y’all later.

[semi-gratuitous bump] i bought simple french food, by richard olney, this weekend, and, ahem, devoured it in two sitting. its really amazing. [/semi-gratuitous bump]

I have a bunch of cookbooks, but I stopped buying them when I realized that I use them rarely if at all. The ones I do find myself using are:

Cook’s Illustrated Magazine: I have just about every issue published, and the yearly indices. These cover just about anything I’d want to make, clearly and concisely. The recipes always work. The magazine has a good mix of “normal” food - roasted chicken, pasta dishes, etc. - and a sprinkling of “special” dishes that are nice for a Sunday meal or when you have guests over. After relying on these for so long, I find myself getting upset over recipes in cookbooks and other magazines because they never go into enough detail. If I have to dredge the chicken cutlets in precise measurements of Wondra Flour, Panko Breadcrumbs, and expensive Egyptian Wogonza spice, then damn it, I want to know WHY, and I want to hear the other options you tried on the way to coming up with this particular mix, plus I want a mail-order source for that Wogonza spice.

Joy of Cooking: I’m with the others here - this is a must-have reference. I rarely cook from the recipes it offers, though. I’ve found that most of them don’t go into enough detail, or are dated. But if you ever need to know what a particular cooking terms means, or look up the name of that funky fruit you saw at the grocery store, this is the book for you.

Betty Crocker Cookbook, circa 1963: This was one of my mother’s favorite cookbooks, so much of the comfort food I grew up with comes from it. Plus, who can live without the funky illustrations?

On Food and Cooking: Where else can you find pics of the microscopic details of the starch found in flour? Or charts of the most common food-born microbes? Ya gotta have a copy of this, if only to impress your friends.

Misc: A couple books by Marcella Hazan, a couple by Julia Child, a couple by James Beard. Always need a few by the masters. Oh yeah, Johne Thorne, just for fun & light reading.

Hi, everyone.

I feel that The Rituals of Dinner, by Margaret Visser, deserves at least a mention in this thread. Visser’s book is a thought-provoking and very well written analysis of different cultures’ food-related practices from around the world.

This isn’t my most heavily used cookbook, but everyone should check out The Eat a Bug Cookbook, by David Gordon. See also Butterflies in my Stomach, by Taylor.

We here in North America and Western Europe don’t usually think of insects and their land-dwelling relatives as prime chow, but many other cultures eagerly scarf 'em down. While I was working at my university’s insectary, I came to love eating live waxworms (they’re a kind of caterpillar, actually) straight from their cultures. These critters are also very good when they’re lightly pan-seared and served with linguine. They taste like slightly nut-flavored shrimp!

Anyway, the books listed above are definitely worth a read, even if you don’t use them every day in your kitchen.


P.S. I doubt I’m the only entomophagist on the SMBD. Anyone else here a bug muncher?


no, but ive been told that i am a rug muncher extrordinaire! (insert lasciviously winking emoticon here)

As a youngster, I remember “Joy of Cooking” being used by my mother a lot. So,at a yard sale,I grabbed one.Another vote for a good cookbook,as well as a great reference.

[ridiculously gratuitious bump] as this is my first thread, im suffering a tad from proud papa syndrome, so i must mention fragrant harbor taste, by ken hom. fantastic hong kong style recipes, i have slept with this book clutched to my chest in order to absorb every bit of knowledge the mighty ken has to offer. [/ridiculously gratuitous bump]