I have a thing for vintage cookbooks. I have quite a few in my own collection — mostly church cookbooks handed down from my mom — and others picked up in thrift stores and used bookstores and garage sales.
I love reading them. I first started reading a non-vintage cookbook, Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.” It taught me so much, and plus, it was interesting. It’s laid out more like a giant, regular-sized book instead of a “cookbook” that has photos on every page and not a lot of text. Sometimes, photo heavy cookbooks, while pretty, make me feel intimidated. No pictures takes away the pressure.
For me, the easiest way to learn about cooking outside of doing it is reading about it. So this is the first post of many that I’ll write about my collection of vintage cookbooks.
I found this book last weekend, at one of my favorite thrift stores in Lincoln. As you can see, it’s been well-loved. I think it was totally worth the $2.98 I paid. In fact, it introduced this food novice to the late, great Craig Claiborne, a great food critic and writer who was the first man to be an editor of the New York Times food page (therefore breaking the gender bias in food) and came up with the four-star system that the New York Times still uses today. I can’t wait to read more of his books.
I took some photos of the interior of this book, because it is truly fun to read. It transports the reader to some fabulous places and calls out, of all authors, Marcel Proust. (Click the photos to make them larger.)
It also has some great writing that uses some vintage turns of phrase that I really love.
It also includes a cake that I must make.
And things with ingredients that I probably won’t ever cook with but like to read about. (That’s a “specialty cut,” to be sure.)
At the back, it has chapters on wine, cocktails and spices. I’ll be reading these without a doubt. In fact, I think the beginning two paragraphs on wine are brilliant.
As I’ve only been looking at this book a few days, I know there’s much more to discover as I read it more. Do any of you have this book? I’m looking forward to cooking some of the things I find in the book, and if you have a favorite recipe to share from this book, let me know.
I’m quite excited, as an aside, to find the review Claiborne wrote of his famous $4,000 dinner. I’m so glad I found this book — I don’t think I could have found it at a better time.